The Mendel Law Firm
The Mendel Law Firm
If you recently suffered the loss of someone close to you, the last thing on your mind is probably the practical and legal implications of your loved one’s death. Unfortunately, however, there are legal steps that need to be taken in order to distribute the decedent’s estate and wrap up his or her affairs. If it turns out that you were named as the Executor of the estate in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, you will be the person in charge of those steps. Likewise, if your loved one established a trust and named you as the Trustee of that trust, you will need to focus on administering the trust. The best way to ensure that you carry out your duties and responsibilities as Executor and/or Trustee without making costly mistakes is to retain the assistance of an experienced Trust Administration and Probate attorney.
Probate is the name given to the legal process that is typically required after an individual dies. The probate process serves a number of important functions, including:
- Authenticating the decedent’s Last Will and Testament if one was left behind.
- Identifying, valuing and categorizing estate assets.
- Notifying creditors of the estate so that they can file claims against the estate.
- Providing the legal framework for challenges to the decedent’s Will.
- Ensuring that state and/or federal gift and estate taxes are paid
- Transferring estate assets to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate.
If the decedent executed a Will prior to death, the estate is referred to as a “testate” estate. A testate estate is administered by the individual appointed as the Executor in the Will and is distributed according to the terms of that Will. If no Will was left behind, the estate is referred to as an “intestate” estate. In that case, any competent adult may volunteer to be the Personal Representative during the administration of the estate. Assets from an intestate estate are distributed according to the Texas intestate succession laws.
The duties and responsibilities involved in administering an estate often require a firm grasp of complex financial and legal concepts which is one reason why retaining an experienced Texas probate attorney to assist is a wise choice.
After a Last Will and Testament, a trust is one of the most commonly used estate planning tools. In fact, many people elect to use a trust as their primary instrument for the distribution of their estate assets because assets held in a trust bypass the probate process altogether. Consequently, trust assets can be distributed to the intended beneficiaries immediately after the death of the Settlor (creator of the trust) instead of waiting for the probate process to conclude.
Trusts are also found in many other areas of a comprehensive estate plan where they help achieve a wide range of estate planning goals, including:
- Asset protection
- Incapacity planning
- Tax avoidance
- Medicaid planning
- Planning for parents with minor children
- Special needs planning
One thing that all trusts have in common is a Trustee who is appointed by the Settlor. A Trustee is responsible for managing and investing trust assets while overseeing the administration of the trust according to the trust terms established by the Settlor. Trust administration often requires legal skills and knowledge that the average person does not have which is why many Trustees turn to an experienced Trust Administration attorney for advice and guidance to avoid making a costly mistake.
If you have been appointed as an Executor or Trustee, the experienced Probate and Trust Administration attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. are available to assist you with your duties and responsibilities. Contact the team today by calling (281) 759-3213 or fill out our online contact form.