When a person dies, part of placing their affairs in order is to administer their estate; this is simply the legal term for collecting, cataloging and managing their possessions, including liquid assets, real estate, personal belongings, and stocks. During administration, the person in charge of managing these items pays any outstanding debts or taxes and then distributes the remaining property to the heirs of the estate. In many cases, the person in charge of administering the estate is known as the executor. Depending on how the estate has been managed, it may go into probate or trust administration.
During the probate process, the court looks at the will of the deceased (if present) and verifies that it's valid. Once that is done, the rest of the process tends to go pretty smoothly-assuming all involved parties agree on the contents of the will and the fairness of the situation.
In the event that the deceased has placed their estate into a trust, the court does not act as the entity in charge of distributing and verifying the legitimacy of the will. Instead, that duty falls to a trustee, whose job is to carry out the instructions of the trust, including dividing assets among beneficiaries.
Trust litigation occurs when one or more interested parties feel there is either an issue with the trust. In some cases, the creditors of the deceased may file a suit to collect on debts before the assets can be distributed among the beneficiaries. In other cases, one party may file a suit against the trustee for alleged misconduct or failure to act impartially; in some cases, the trustee has failed to carry out their duties and needs to be replaced.
Hiring an attorney for the administration of an estate is an excellent way to ensure that the management of the estate remains impartial. In addition, an experienced attorney will be able to walk any and all interested parties through the legalities surrounding trusts, trust litigation, and the probate process.
I have over 40 years of experience in dealing with estate planning. Whether you're drawing up a new will or considering a trust for your assets, I can be an impartial advocate that will help ensure there is little to no confusion surrounding your wishes. Call today for a consultation.
For over 40 years, David Bale has been helping the people of Westerville, Ohio and surrounding areas with their needs as related to estate planning and the administration of their loved ones' estates. If you have questions about trust litigation, the execution of a will, or the duties of an executor or trustee, Bale & Associates, Ltd. can help. Call today for a consultation.