Navigating the requirements to administer assets through a trust or a will can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience that comes at a time when you may be least equipped to handle it. As a named successor trustee of a trust or executor of a will, there are many steps necessary to protect yourself from liability. Alternatively, you may be faced with form-heavy legal proceedings if your loved one left no trust behind. Finally, as someone who is entitled to inheritance, you may be confused about how you can obtain information or demand a release of your lawful inheritance. Fortunately, you do not have to manage these responsibilities alone. Our litigation team specializes in this field of law and can guide you through the administrative process quickly and effectively.
Providing Guidance and Support for Trustees and Executors
Trustees and executors are the people named in the trust or will who will be responsible for administering the trust or estate upon the death of the settlor or testator. Unfortunately, many people chosen to serve as trustees or executors are not prepared for this responsibility.
The responsibility of a trustee or an executor goes beyond merely collecting and selling assets, managing bank accounts, and distributing money to named beneficiaries or lawful heirs. Trustees and executors are legally required to comply with a fiduciary duty—a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries or legal heirs– while serving in that capacity. This may sound straightforward in the abstract but can raise several complex questions, especially if the family is suffering from emotional turmoil. Without legal guidance, a trustee’s or executor’s misguided discharge of their duties can expose them to significant liability, even when acting with the best intentions.
At Chhokar Law Group, we can help minimize or eliminate these risks. If you are a trustee or executor, we can help:
- Respond to demands for information and mitigate disputes;
- Gather assets and maintain the value while awaiting distribution;
- Prepare statutorily required notices, accountings, and court filings;
- Guide taxation questions; and
- Complete distributions while protecting you from current and future liability.
With over three decades of combined experience in the field of trust and estate administration, Chhokar Law Group can provide seasoned, cost-effective guidance no matter your needs.
Assisting Beneficiaries and Heirs
As a named beneficiary or expecting heir, you may need independent advice, especially when the trustee or executor is unresponsive or appears to be taking advantage of their position of authority. You may have questions regarding the extent of your inheritance or the conditions upon which it should be received. Getting the information you need isn’t always easy. This can be particularly difficult for individuals who were removed as a beneficiary unexpectedly. At Chhokar Law Group, we help beneficiaries and heirs understand their rights and collect their lawful inheritance.
When someone dies without a trust, their estate must often go through a court-supervised process called “probate” before assets can be distributed to the heirs. Probate has a reputation for being time-consuming and expensive. This process requires many forms, submissions, and notices and each step is intricately intertwined with statutory mandates. A single mistake set the administration back several months. However, probate can be a relatively simple process if you are familiar with the forms, courts, and common pitfalls. We work with families who have lost a loved one, shepherding them through the probate process quickly and cost-effectively.
At Chhokar Law Group, our team will guide you through the probate process from start to finish so that you can get the closure you need with confidence.
Whereas probate is a single process with a definite beginning and end, administering a trust can represent an ongoing responsibility. In addition, the administration of a trust often involves complex assets and transactions. Chhokar Law Group can help you manage your responsibilities and meet your fiduciary obligations. We can help you:
- Take control of trust assets
- Identify and notify beneficiaries;
- Identify and pay creditors of the estate
- Manage disputes against the estate, including litigation when necessary
- Maintain and secure trust assets for the duration of the trust
- Prepare mandatory trust accountings
- Respond to requests for information from the beneficiaries
- Distribute trust assets to beneficiaries and conclude the trust administration
In short, we are well-positioned to handle the administration of your trust from the beginning until its conclusion.
Trust Modifications and Termination
In some cases, there may be a need to modify the terms of the trust to address unexpected situations that developed over time after the settlor has passed. In that situation, the beneficiaries may enter into an agreement whereby the trust can be modified, but it may require approval by a court. We can guide you through the process quickly and with minimal delays.
In other situations, the trust assets may become exhausted, or the purpose of the trust has been fulfilled. However, the trustee is not automatically relieved of their duties. We can help you formally terminate the trust so that you legally document that you have discharged your duties.
Contact the Chhokar Law Group Today
The administration of a will or a trust can be a demanding role. Whether you are a beneficiary, trustee, or executor, we can help you get through this. Call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and how we can help.