COVID-19 Update: You can do Your Planning From Home

Articles Posted in Trust Administration

The administration of a trust that has become irrevocable, usually due to the death of its creator.

After creating a Colorado estate plan that contains a trust, there is one final step: choosing the trustee to oversee the trust after the creator of the estate has passed away. The trustee manages the assets in the trust and distributes the assets according to the creator’s wishes. A lot of people have misconceptions about who to pick as their trustee, assuming that picking a family member will be more cost-effective and no one knows them better than a loved one. However, there are benefits to picking a professional trustee instead—and all the knowledge and experience that comes with one. Below are common misconceptions people have about choosing a professional trustee and why they are ultimately incorrect in holding these assumptions.

A Professional Trustee Does Not Understand Me or My Family’s Dynamics

Many individuals worry that if they hire a professional trustee, they are choosing someone who does not know them and their family—as compared to picking a loved one to serve as trustee. However, professional trustees not only strive to get to know their clients but also come with the experience to navigate the complicated nature of estate planning. A major part of a trustee’s job is to fulfill the creator’s written wishes. To do so, they build strong relationships with families by learning more about them and treat beneficiaries as partners during the administrative process.

While creating a trust is critical for many people and their loved ones, it may seem complicated at first. There are also important decisions that must be made throughout the process that will impact the beneficiaries and the assets within a Colorado estate plan. One such choice is who to designate as the successor trustee to a revocable living trust. A successor trustee is appointed to take over the trust when the creator of the trust—who normally serves as the initial trustee—becomes incapacitated or dies. Because the successor trustee has important responsibilities, it is important to choose the right person to serve this role.

Initially, the person creating the revocable trust normally acts as the trustee. However, in an irrevocable trust, someone else must be appointed to this position. The successor trustee’s role only comes into play when the initial trustee can no longer manage the trust. When the initial trustee either passes away or becomes incapacitated, the successor assumes control of the trust.

While a successor trustee’s role may seem similar across all successor trustees, this is not the case. The exact duties the successor trustee must undertake depends on the terms set in the trust agreement. The successor trustee often appraises the value of all the assets in the trust, pays all taxes, and sets aside funds for expenses the trust may incur. Regardless of the specifics of the trust, the main duty of all successor trustees is to handle the transfer of assets to the beneficiaries and ensure that they follow the terms written in the trust. Unlike an estate executor, a successor trustee’s role may continue for years after the initial trustee’s passing. For example, the initial trustee may leave a grandson assets that they do not want him to receive until his 25th birthday. If the initial trustee passes when the grandson is 14 years old, the successor trustee must safeguard his inheritance until his 25th birthday.

Trusts are an essential component of most Colorado estate plans. However, despite their importance, many individuals do not understand the basics of a trust, including their key concepts and terms. While trusts can sometimes be complicated, the following post breaks down the essential aspects and terms associated with a Colorado trust.

What is a Trust and Who is Involved in the Process?

A trust is a legal agreement involving at least three parties, where one party holds and distributes assets on behalf of another. The terms of the trust – which all parties must abide by – are included in a legal document called the trust agreement.

As mentioned previously, there are three parties involved in a trust agreement. The first party is called a trustor, who creates the trust and is giving away, or transferring, the assets. The second party is called the trustee, who manages the trust and its assets. The trustee is legally obligated to manage the trust in the best interest of those receiving the assets and also consistent with the terms of the trust agreement. The third party is called the beneficiary, who will receive the assets in the trust. They are called the beneficiary because they benefit from the trust. It is important to note that the same person can be in more than one of these roles, even at the same time. For example, often, the same individual will be the trustor and the trustee.

Continue Reading

Choosing a trustee to manage a Colorado trust after someone has died may seem like a simple decision; however, much thought should be put into it. From keeping a detailed record of trust account activity to reporting the income tax liability of the trust, performing the duties associated with being a trustee can often be both overwhelming and immensely important. While the first instinct might be to pick a friend or family member to serve as trustee for the estate, there are compelling reasons why a professional trustee should be chosen instead.

Managing an estate can often be very technical and time-consuming. Because of this, there are factors to take into account when selecting a trustee:

Cost

It may seem logical that having a family member serve as a trustee would be cheaper than hiring a professional; however, this is not often the case. Individual trustees, unlike fiduciary institutions, must hire other professionals like attorneys and CPAs to help them perform estate-related duties. These costs are often unexpected and not included when calculating the overall cost of a trustee. On the other hand, corporate trustees often provide these services in house and are bundled into a comprehensive fee.
Additionally, inexperienced trustees will often forget that the residence of a trustee determines the income taxation of a trust and its relevant state law. On the other hand, professional trustees may also have an office in a state that will avoid state income tax on the estate.

Continue Reading

Justia Lawyer Rating
Super Lawyers
Colorado Bar Association
Wealth Counsel
Avvo
Avvo
NAELA
SCInstitute
Boulder County Bar Association
Contact Information