Many estate planners in Texas rely on trusts as a way to avoid probate, minimize estate taxes and plan for incapacity. Upon the death of the settlor, however, a trust must go through a complicated trust administration phase to carry out its terms. Given that a trustee is considered a fiduciary and can be held liable for mistakes and/or misconduct, it is crucial to consult with an experienced trust and estate lawyer if you are in this position.
At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC, we regularly advise trustees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and throughout Texas on the trust administration process. Well-versed in the provisions of the Texas Trust Code, we are committed to helping trustees fulfill their fiduciary duties as well as to protecting the rights of beneficiaries. When you become our client, we will work closely with you to make sure your interests are protected. Please contact our office today to speak with one of our experienced Texas trust administration lawyers.
What is the Role of a Trustee in Texas?
A trustee is responsible for managing the assets of a trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. As a fiduciary, a trustee is placed in a position of trust with the beneficiaries. This means that a trustee must (1) act in the best interest of the beneficiaries at all times and (2) preserve the value of the trust assets. A trustee who fails to do so may face civil penalties and fines.
The legal team at the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC can help you carry out your important duties, such as:
- Notifying the beneficiaries about the settlor’s passing
- Inventorying the trust property
- Arranging for an appraisal of the trust assets
- Transferring property into the trust
- Obtaining tax ID numbers
- Filing estate tax returns
- Preparing a trust accounting
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries
The trust administration phase can become particularly challenging when a trust contains significant assets or conflicts arise among the beneficiaries. Given that you can be held liable for mismanaging a trust, it takes a skilled trust and estate lawyer to protect your interests.
When you become our client, you will have access to our team of estate planning professionals, as well as our respected network of accountants, appraisers and financial experts. We will work closely with you to help you navigate the trust administration process and avoid the common pitfalls that may expose you to legal liability.
When disputes about the administration of a trust arise, we prefer to seek negotiated solutions, but we are also highly experienced in estate litigation. Despite the challenges involved in trust administration, being appointed as a trustee is also an honor. Above all, our trust administration lawyers are here to help you faithfully carry out your duties as a trustee.
Preparation of Trust Accountings
While trusts are designed to be administered without judicial intervention, the Texas Trust Code requires trustees to provide annual trust accountings to beneficiaries who receive distributions of income and principal during the accounting period.
Information that must be disclosed in a trust accounting includes assets and liabilities of the trust, distributions, trustee’s compensation, and agents retained by the trustee (e.g. appraisers, accountants, attorneys). In other words, a trustee is required to fully disclose any actions taken on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Because a trust accounting is unlike a tax or financial accounting prepared by an accountant, it is wise to work with a trust and estate attorney who has in-depth knowledge of the requirements under the trust code. Our legal team has the skills and experience to help you prepare a balanced trust accounting that will provide transparency to the beneficiaries — and the court, in the event that a dispute rises to the level of litigation.
Contact Our Experienced Texas Trust Administration Attorneys
At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC, our services include creating a wide range of revocable and irrevocable trusts and guiding clients through the trust administration process. If you are considering establishing a trust-based estate plan, we can draw up the trust document and help you explore your options for naming a trustee. While many estate planners select family members to act as trustees, the person you select must ultimately be capable and dependable. One option is to enlist the services of a professional trust services provider.
If you have been named as a trustee of a loved one’s trust, we will work to help you avoid costly mistakes that can result in significant financial penalties. Finally, we also regularly advise beneficiaries about their rights under the terms of a trust and make sure they receive assets to which they are legally entitled.
Our trust administration lawyers are highly regarded for adhering to the highest ethical standards and providing our clients with informed representation when they need it most. Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.