Spotlight: The Estate Team

Jan 22, 2019 | Estate Planning & Administration

Unfortunately, we will all eventually face the hardship that comes with losing a loved one. If you’ve ever served as the executor of a family member’s estate, you may also be familiar with the burden of responsibility that can accompany grief during this time. The combination of responsibilities and emotions can present unique challenges.

Heirloom objects or personal items can further complicate matters for families. Often, the sentimental value attached to the items family members leave behind are a great deal higher than the actual value of those things on paper.

Cumberland Trust’s post-mortem team manages estates, taking the administrative and legal burden off of the family. Cumberland can serve as executor, co-executor, trustee of administrative trusts, or agent of the executor.

“Our team steps in to work alongside families who are often in an extremely vulnerable state due to the loss of a loved one,” said Rachel Fuqua Klages, Vice President and Director, Estate Administration at Cumberland Trust. “When Cumberland Trust serves as a third-party estate executor, we focus on the filing of taxes, securing and distributing complicated assets and tending to immediate needs so the family may focus on saying goodbye to their loved one. We’ve found, no matter the situation, the process is more peaceful for the family when a professional executor or administrator is used, rather than trying to go it alone.”

Along with Fuqua Klages, Cumberland Trust’s estate administration team includes Jonathan Thomaston, Vice President and Trust Officer, Manager; Judy Johnson, Vice President and Trust Officer; Amanda Luthy, Assistant Vice President and Trust Officer; David Liles, Trust Officer; Phillip Burnett, Trust Administrator; Donna Wooden, Trust Administrator; and Jesse Ramoya, Trust Administrator.

Cumberland Trust also serves as a neutral party when a family is involved in litigation around a decedent’s estate. The court or the family’s attorney will enlist Cumberland to sort through financials and assets, which helps the family keep matters private and often settle disagreements out of court.

Enlisting an unbiased third-party fiduciary like Cumberland Trust during the estate settlement process can be a best practice regardless of family dynamics. Even good relationships among family members can be damaged when grieving. Having Cumberland Trust navigate the estate settlement process and guide difficult decisions can prevent dissension within the family.

When a family member passes away, Cumberland Trust’s estate administration team will:

  • Assist with needs and care of the surviving spouse, other loved ones and pets,
  • Secure real estate and protect assets,
  • Recover valuable documents,
  • Limit access to property and change locks, and
  • Identify heirs and beneficiaries.

The team carries out these tasks with care and compassion towards the decedent’s loved ones. Cumberland Trust remains an active part of the family’s team as the estate is fully settled and afterwards.

 “When Cumberland Trust comes in to help a family manage an estate, it is always a team effort,” said Jonathan Thomaston, Vice President, Trust Officer and manager on the estate team at Cumberland Trust. “We stay in close communication with family members, attorneys, financial advisors and other interested parties to ensure that the individual’s legacy is preserved and wishes are respected. Often, the regular communication about the estate’s progress that we provide, without the weight of its responsibility, is comforting for the family.”

With years of experience in estate and post-mortem administration, putting Cumberland Trust on the team to serve as an unbiased third-party executor, trustee, co-executor, or agent, makes sense for many families. When our team focuses on the administrative component of estate settlement, families can heal without unnecessary stress or unwanted tension. Instead, the family can focus on supporting one another and remembering an important life.