Many people look at estate planning as an exercise in document creation. This is certainly part of the equation, but there is another very important consideration. Someone has to follow the instructions that you leave behind to bring your wishes to fruition. You should understand the postmortem responsibilities of the administrator thoroughly so you can make informed decisions.
The Role of the Trustee
When you hear about the drawbacks that go along with probate, you may wonder if there is a viable alternative to a last will that would facilitate probate avoidance. The answer is yes, and the widely embraced solution is the revocable living trust. If you were to create and fund a revocable living trust, you would be called the grantor or settler. The trustee is the individual or entity that administers the trust. You can act as the trustee while you are alive and well if you establish a revocable living trust. As a result, there is no loss of control of the assets.
The beneficiary is the person that can receive monetary distributions from the trust. Once again, you can act as the beneficiary at first, and you name a successor beneficiary to assume the role after you are gone. It should be noted that you can name multiple beneficiaries to succeed you.
In the trust declaration, you leave behind instructions with regard to the way that you want the trustee to distribute the assets after you pass away. The trustee would follow these directions, and the distributions would not be subject to the process of probate and the pitfalls that go along with it.Once again, we can be engaged to provide the trustee with the necessary guidance if you choose someone that you know personally that is inexperienced. However, some people engage a professional fiduciary such as a trust company or the trust section of a bank. A living trust is just one of a number of different types of trusts that can be utilized. The precise nature of the trust administration tasks will vary depending on the device.
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If you would like to discuss probate or trust administration with a licensed estate planning attorney, we are here to help. Our firm offers free consultations, and you can send us a message to set up an appointment or give us a call at 312-753-6000.