Estate and Post-Mortem Trust Administration
Peace of Mind Starts with a Plan
A thoughtful estate plan is one of the best gifts you can leave to your family and loved ones. A lack of planning during life can leave families—while grappling with grief—navigating the probate system, inheritance taxes, and other complex issues.
Estate Administration with a Heart
Why Choose a Corporate Executor?
For many families, naming a corporate executor, co-executor, trustee, or co-trustee is preferable to burdening a family member with such a role. Some of the advantages of a corporate executor include:
- Constant availability. If an individual is named to settle your estate, that person could become sick, injured, or have other personal or business interests interfere at a time when his or her presence is crucial. A corporate executor, with many on-staff professionals, is always available.
- Specialized knowledge. A qualified executor must have good business sense, understand the complexities of the various laws of taxation and administration that apply to an estate, provide detailed record keeping, and provide timely and consistent communication.
- Impartiality. It is our duty to treat all beneficiaries objectively and impartially. There is no worry that we will be influenced to favor one beneficiary over another. A corporate executor or co-executor can be especially helpful when modern family dynamics may be involved.
- Accountability. A corporate executor’s actions are subject to periodic reviews, not only by the beneficiaries but also by independent auditors and regulatory examiners.
Navigating Your Estate Plan
Establishing an estate plan is essential and can provide you and your family with security and peace of mind for the future.
Estate planning is not “one-size-fits-all” and varies in complexity depending on individual needs. Take time to consult with a team of trusted professional advisors (e.g., attorney, financial advisor, CPA) and carefully consider the best options for you and your family.
A Last Will and Testament is perhaps the primary document that comes to mind when most people think of estate planning. An essential planning tool, a will dictates distribution of your assets from your estate to surviving family members, friends, or favored charitable organizations. Some wills can establish trusts for asset protection purposes or determine guardianship of minor children in the event of both parents’ death.
Other important documents to consider when drafting a will include power of attorney(s). A healthcare or financial power of attorney can give the individual(s) you select the authority to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated. Alternatively, advance directives (e.g., a living will or do-not-resuscitate (DNR)) help guide the specific decisions of doctors and caregivers if you become incapacitated and incapable of expressing your wishes regarding your medical treatment. In these instances, planning for the unimaginable may help avoid unnecessary guilt and stress and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during unexpected medical emergencies.
Depending on your needs, establishing a revocable living trust is another option your attorney might recommend as part of your estate plan. This document allows the trust creator or grantor to place selected assets in trust. Typically, the grantor is named as the primary beneficiary during his or her lifetime and may also act as his or her own trustee. The grantor retains rights over the trust and may change or revoke the trust at any time.
At death, a revocable trust designates a successor trustee and outlines distribution of the trust’s assets. Some select this option to avoid a lengthy probate process and protect the privacy of the grantor and beneficiaries of the trust. In the event of the grantor’s incapacity, a revocable trust also dictates who will manage the trust and financial affairs, which could prevent the need for competency hearings and court proceedings to appoint a conservator or guardian of the assets.
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