What happens after my loved one dies?
If your loved one had an estate plan at time of his or her death, it is highly advisable to seek the services of an estate planning attorney to guide you through the process of carrying out your loved one’s wishes. Using an attorney will help you properly take care of your obligations as a surviving spouse or successor trustee. This is very important because you must act as a fiduciary and there are certain legal obligations you must take care to observe or you risk opening yourself up to liability.
Trust Administration services are available to help a surviving spouse or successor trustee take care of the post-death administration of a Trust and make the distributions as streamlined and effortless as possible. Services include legal advice and assistance with gathering the assets, satisfying creditors, help filing appropriate tax returns, and then distributing the remaining assets.
Does the Successor Trustee ever need to go to probate court? Sometimes. Occasionally a decedent will have created a Trust but for various reasons not all of their assets have been put into their trust (this is called “funding”) because the property assignments were not completed. Without proper funding, the assets not in the trust may need to be probated (e.g., real estate). In such cases, a “Heggstad Petition” can be filed with the court, requesting the court to allow the property to be assigned to the trust instead of having to probate that asset.