Everything You Want to Know About Estate And Trust Administration in Colorado

After a loved one’s death, estate and trust administration can seem like a daunting task.
Trust attorneys at Legacy Law can help you handle it.

What Is Estate And Trust Administration?

Estate and trust administration after an individual has died can be a complex task. It requires that a trustee or an executor or personal representative follows a certain procedure and distributes the decedent’s property and assets according to her or his wishes.

Simply said, estate assets represent everything the deceased person owned. However, the whole process of asset distributions can be more complex than people think. Usually, the estate has to go through probate, and if the decedent had created a trust, a trust administration process may also be required.

If you have lost a loved one, it will probably be hard for you to deal with these processes while grieving. However, if you contact Legacy Law Group, we can provide you with peace of mind by providing excellent services. Our Denver estate planning and trust attorneys will help you make sense of estate planning or handle trusts and estates with the goal to protect what you value most.

Estate Planning, Trust, And Estate Administration Services

Regardless of whether your loved one died with or without a will, her or his estate must be administered. If the decedent has left a will, the process of administering an estate is called probate, and if there is no will, it’s called administration.

The probate process starts when an executor named in the decedent’s will files necessary paperwork with the probate court located in the county where the decedent lived. The executor has the responsibility to carry out the terms of the will and distribute deceased assets and real property (real estate).

However, if no one is appointed as an executor or the person who is named can’t take that responsibility, the probate court can appoint a personal representative. In the State of Colorado, the surviving spouse has the priority to be appointed as the estate’s personal representative. In addition, the surviving spouse is entitled to a certain amount of property from the probate estate, regardless of whether or not there is a valid will.

If there is no will, it’s said that the deceased had died intestate. Every state has its own intestacy laws that determine how property and assets are distributed in this case. But, in this case, the county’s Probate Court will also appoint someone as the estate’s administrator.

What Is Trust Administration?

In addition to wills, trusts can also be part of well-prepared estate plans. Trust administration is, in a way, similar to the administration of the estate since it also involves distributing the decedent’s assets. But, the process is not the same. For example, the assets in a trust don’t go through probate, so they can be distributed to beneficiaries quickly.

When the deceased person, called a grantor, created a trust, she or he also had to name a trustee. The job of a trustee is to oversee the management of the trust when the grantor dies. In addition, the trustee, like a personal representative, has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

Trust and estate beneficiaries can take legal action against the trustee or the executor if they feel they are breaching their fiduciary duties.

Estate Administration: What Does an Estate Administrator Do?

Both executors or personal representatives have many responsibilities, including:

  • Determining what the deceased owned and making an inventory of the property and assets
  • Obtaining an assessment of the estate’s value
  • Determining if and what the deceased owed
  • Notifying potential beneficiaries and creditors
  • Paying debts and creditors’ claims
  • Paying taxes
  • Distributing the estate assets to beneficiaries

In addition to all these tasks, the personal representative has to make sure all decedent’s income tax returns, estate tax returns, and state inheritance tax returns, if necessary, are filed.  It’s important to know that the estate can’t be closed and assets distributed until debts are paid.

Trust Administration Lawyer Explains: How Does a Trust Work After Someone Dies?

If you are just a trustee, not the executor of the estate, make sure you stay in touch with him or her in order to know what they are doing and why. Sometimes, the executor can transfer estate assets to the trust, so distributing them further will be your responsibility.

During your first months of trust administration after the grantor dies, you may not need the help of a qualified attorney. However, later, when you have to transfer the ownership of real estate or file tax returns, legal advice may be necessary.

Even if you are a trustee of a simple trust, there are many tasks that have to be completed, including:

  • Obtaining a death certificate
  • Filing the will with the County’s Probate Court
  • Notifying government institutions of the grantor’s death (such as the Department of Health and Social Security Administration)
  • Identifying and notifying the trust beneficiaries
  • Getting trust assets appraised and paying debts
  • Transferring the property to your name as a trustee

Trustees also have to keep records and organize everything they are doing. Considering everything, trustees have many responsibilities and can be held personally accountable for any losses or debts that occurred while serving as trustees.

However, trustees, as well as executors, can decline to perform the requested service and ask the court to name someone else instead.

How Can an Estate Administration Attorney Help a Personal Representative or a Trustee?

Estate and trust administration can be complex and demanding, especially if you don’t have any experience in these fields. People can get easily confused when filing the estate tax or final income tax return for the deceased, filing court paperwork, or when trying to locate a potential beneficiary and providing him or her notice. In addition, these positions come with fiduciary duties, meaning they are obligated by Colorado laws to act in the best interest of the heirs or beneficiaries.

But, the good news is you don’t have to go through it alone. Since executors, trustees and personal representatives are often family members, retaining a professional to help can be a good idea.

Hiring an estate planning attorney can make this process as painless as possible. Attorneys at Legacy Law can help their clients perform their duties as executors, personal representatives, or trustees as the law requires and avoid being exposed to unnecessary risk or liability.

We also handle litigation related to trusts and probate, trying to resolve disputes effectively and quickly. Our law firm can help you by taking as much off your hands in this time of loss.

What Are Estate Administration Expenses?

Estate administration expenses in Colorado generally depend on several factors, including the size of the estate and whether creditors object or beneficiaries contest the will.

That being said, there are some standard expenses during the procedure. These expenses include filing fees and court fees. If you retain a probate attorney, their fee is also a type of expense. Also, an executor is entitled to a fee, which is usually 2% of the value of the estate.

Additional fees may have to be paid to other professionals such as appraisers and accountants for their services. Bear in mind that most of these expenses are paid out of the estate.

You can see some of the Colorado probate filing fees here. Estimating exactly what all the expenses would be is not possible because no one can know what will occur in advance before the probate case has even started. But, how much of the estate will remain after probate depends on how well the decedent has done its estate planning and tax planning.

Experienced Help With Wills, Trusts, And Estate Administration

When you lose a loved one, administering the trust or estate shouldn’t be yet another thing you have to worry about. Having an experienced trust attorney on your side during the process can make a difference between confusion and neatly executed transition.

Our Denver, CO, estate planning attorneys make legal issues involving wills and trusts a breeze. We can tackle everything life changes may throw your way, from wills and trusts to the administration of estates and advanced life directives. Reach out to us today and schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your case.

Our Client Success Stories

Derrick Swantz

“Anastasia Fainberg is extremely good at the legal work she performs. Her complete attention to every detail make her a pleasure to work with. She is the most qualified attorney that I have ever seen. I recommend her highly as she earns your trust from start to finish.”

Glen And Gracie

“My wife and I are very grateful for the careful explanation of the value of having our estate plan in place. Matt Meuli patiently answered all of our questions and made sure we had all the information we needed. We highly recommend Meuli Law Office for your estate planning needs. Now our beneficiaries will be in great hands and not have to struggle through so many unknowns.”

Joel Perry

“Fantastic attorney has helped me on several matters and will continue to use her for our other legal matters. I would recommend Anastasia to anyone needing legal assistance.” We highly recommend Meuli Law Office for your estate planning needs. Now our beneficiaries will be in great hands and not have to struggle through so many unknowns.”

Lee & Linda

“Matthew Meuli, Attorney/Counselor has been a friend of mine and Linda’s for the past four years. Matt and I met through Business Network International. At BNI Matt presented himself as a very qualified counselor for planning a trust. I had been a beneficiary of my mother’s trust and learned the value of a will versus a trust. We were able to set up the L&L Trust in an easy and understandable way with Matt’s professional help. As we have seen in the last two months life can change in a moment and having a trust in place gives us tremendous security.”

Denetria Walker

“If you are looking for a Law group that is professional, attentive and covers every single detail of your estate planning then give Anastasia a call!”

Sandie and ed

“When my father passed unexpectedly, it was surprising how much was involved. We had no idea what to do, where to go, how to find info that wasn’t written on his 1 page handwritten will. We will be forever grateful that we had Matt Meuli by our side showing us how to navigate through my father’s poorly prepared will. We have since set up a trust for our little ones and have no worries for those left behind. Matt thoroughly explained each part of the process in an easy to understand way. We now have peace of mind. Thank you Matt!”