If you create a last will or a trust, you are stating your wishes in writing, and this is clearly necessary. At the same time, there are things that must be done after you pass away to bring these wishes to fruition.
Let’s look at five things that everyone should know about estate administration.
1.) Executor or Personal Representative
If you use a last will to state your final wishes, you can nominate an executor in the document. This is the person who would handle the business of your estate after you are gone.
The court would be forced to appoint a personal representative to handle the estate administration tasks if you fail to nominate an executor in your will.
2.) Proving of the Will
After your passing, the will would be probated. The executor does not have the power to act without supervision. He or she would admit the will to probate, and the court would examine the will to determine its validity.
The person who creates a last will is called the testator. In North Carolina, for a will to be valid, the testator must sign the will in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the document.
Notarization is not absolutely necessary, but it can speed up the process. You and the witnesses could go to a notary to get a self proving affidavit. If this is done, the court wouldn’t have to contact the witnesses during probate.
3.) Legal Guidance
When you are choosing an executor, you should make sure that the person has a good bit of business acumen. Plus, you should discuss the matter with the person that you want to nominate to make sure that he or she is, ready, willing, and able to assume the role.
To make things run smoothly for the executor, you could make sure that legal guidance is in place. When you work with your estate planning attorney to draw up your last will, your attorney is going to get to know you and he or she will gain a full understanding of your true wishes.
When you are devising your estate plan initially, you may want your estate planning attorney to act as the probate lawyer after your passing. You could let your executor know about this, and the executor could contact your attorney after you are gone. In this manner, there would be legal guidance every step of the way.
4.) Trust Administration
If a trust is established, the person or entity who administers the trust is called the trustee. Revocable living trusts are widely used, and if you establish this type of trust, you can act as the trustee while you are alive and fully capable of your own decision-making.
When you create the trust , you name a successor trustee to handle the trust administration tasks after you pass away. The successor trustee would follow your instructions with regard to distributions to the beneficiaries.
5.) Choosing a Successor Trustee
Any mentally competent adult who is willing to assume the role can legally act as a living trust successor trustee. Your first thought may be to name a family member or someone else that you know personally to act as the trustee.
This is an option, but many people will opt for a corporate trustee such as a trust company. When you use a professional fiduciary, there would be no favoritism issues or conflicts of interest. A certified financial professional would manage the assets in the trust, and there would be no longevity concerns.
There are government regulations that must be followed by corporate trustees, and within each organization there is oversight, and this level of accountability is another positive.
Download Our Special Reports
Now that you know a little bit about estate and trust administration, you may want to dive in deeper. We have prepared a number of in-depth special reports that put many different estate planning and elder law topics under the microscope.
These reports are being offered free of charge, and we have a couple of reports available that are relevant to this blog post. One of the reports covers the probate process and the role of the executor, and you can click this link to access the report: Estate Administration Report.
There is another report on trust administration, and you can access that report here: Free Trust Administration Report.