Trust and Estate Administration
An “estate plan,” either as set forth in a trust or in a will, is essentially a blue print – a set of babysitter instructions by which you direct how your assets are to be managed when you are unable to do so. This can be as the result of disability or after your death. At death, “estate administration” is the process by which your blue print is carried out; the process by which your assets are transferred to the beneficiaries as directed by the estate plan.
When we complete planning with our clients, we show them how we will be here to assist in administration and care and loved ones when they must carry out plans. And when that day of care comes, we design a process that is caring, efficient and cost-effective. Our staff’s significant experience allows us to walk through every issue and problem, and to help clients carry out those parts of administration they want to handle.
The cost and complexity of the administration process at death or disability depends on many factors. These include: the condition and type of estate plan; the complexity of the post-death planning called for in the trust; whether an estate is subject to payment of the “death tax;” the title of assets; whether a court proceeding will be required; and whether tax returns will be filed or special tax elections made.
In order for the administrative process to be successful in carrying out your blue print, the estate administrator must have control over your assets. At death, title to assets pass to beneficiaries in one of four ways:
- Joint Tenancy – by operation of law
- Beneficiary Designations – by contract
- Probate – through the probate process
- Trust owned assets – through the trust administration process
If you die without a trust, your will only controls property passing through the probate process. If you do not have a will, your estate must also pass through the probate process. Therefore, if your will is the document that contains your blue print, it will not control a large portion of your property. Your blue print will fail!
Successful estate administration begins with proper estate planning. At DR, we have established and follow a structured and detail oriented process in trust administration to transfer assets and administration to the next generation. This process ensures that the trusts which were established by our clients in their lifetimes are completed and established exactly as called for in their trust plans. In the difficult time and process of carrying on after a loved one passes, we will be there to serve and protect the needs of our clients.
Our philosophy is that estate planning is more than just a routine preparation of documents, but rather the process of helping our clients achieve their intended results.
Effective estate administration means establishing and funding the trusts required under a decedent’s trust documents. The process requires attention to funding and allocation, and involves titling of assets, empowering fiduciaries, meetings with beneficiaries, and transferring assets. We often work with our client’s other accountants, professionals and advisors to ensure the team effectively carries out trustor intentions.
At Dymond • Reagor, we believe that the best estate administration for our clients is a careful and intentional process where we listen to concerns and effectively implement the intentions set forth in each trust, while carefully listening to fiduciaries and beneficiaries along the way.
To see what a proper estate plan includes take a look at our sample estate planning portfolio.