The trust and estate administration attorneys at RKPT guide family members, trustees, heirs, beneficiaries, and estate executors and administrators through the process of distributing a deceased person’s assets after a loved one dies.
Probate estate administration is the process by which the probate court reviews and approves a person’s Last Will and Testament and oversees distribution of the assets held in the deceased person’s name alone after their death. Assets held by the deceased person without effective beneficiary designations must pass through probate, regardless of whether the person died with or without a Will.
When a person has used a trust as part of their estate plan, assets can be titled in the trust or transferred to the trust by beneficiary designations. Trust assets do not pass through probate court; however, the trust must still be administered. Trust administration is a private process by which trust assets are transferred according to the terms of the trust after the death of the trust-maker.
Common Terms in Estate Administration
Probate and trust administration can seem complicated, partly because of the specialized terms used. To better understand the estate administration process, it is helpful to clarify what common estate administration means.
- The decedent is the person who died
- An estate refers to the decedent’s property
- Testate means the decedent died with a Will
- Intestate means the decedent died without a Will
- Heirs are the people who receive property when a person dies without a Will
- Beneficiaries are the people who are designated to receive property in a person’s Will
- The Executor is the person named in a Will who oversees distribution of estate assets
- An Administrator is a person who is appointed to manage an estate when a decedent died without a Will
What To Expect in Probate Court
Probate begins by appointing an estate administrator or executor. The estate representative will take an inventory of the deceased person’s property and notify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors of the person’s death. The estate representative will file an accounting with the probate court, pay debts and estate taxes, and distribute the remaining property according to the terms of the person’s Will or, if the person died without a Will, according to the laws of intestacy.
Trust administration is similar to probate administration in that it is the process by which assets are transferred after someone has died. However, trusts are commonly used precisely because distribution of assets placed in the trust does not require probate court oversight or approval and is generally more efficient and less costly.
When a person makes a trust, the trustee holds trust assets for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. When the trust-maker dies, the trustee distributes trust assets according to the terms of the trust.
The trust administrator will
- Take and maintain an inventory of trust assets
- Notify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors of the death of the trust-maker
- Collect money owed to the trust
- Pay debts and taxes of the trust
- Value trust property and the expense of trust administration
- Prepare an accounting of trust activities
- Distribute assets to trust beneficiaries
RKPT Can Help with Trust and Probate Estate Administration
Trust and estate administration can be a complicated and time-consuming process. The trust and estate administration lawyers at RKPT can help ensure that the estate is administered correctly under applicable laws.
Our lawyers will guide you through the probate or trust administration process and can handle much of the work for you. We provide peace of mind by ensuring your loved one’s estate will be handled the right way. Our lawyers have decades of experience administering trusts and estates and will save you time and money by knowing which forms need to be filed, where to file them, and how to submit them.
After the loss of a loved one, let us shoulder the burden of estate and probate administration so you can spend time with your family. Regardless of the size or complexity of the estate, we strive to deliver smart and creative solutions in an efficient, meaningful way.
Based in Cincinnati, we serve clients throughout the Midwest and Florida and are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the loss of a loved one.
We invite you to contact RKPT or call us at (513) 721-3330 for more information about our Personal Planning practice.