Secure Your Legacy with an Estate Plan
When it comes to estate planning, it is important to understand what are the responsibilities of an estate trustee in South Portland, ME. Estate trustees are responsible for managing the assets of a deceased person and ensuring that their wishes are carried out.
Jackson & MacNichol, a Maine estate planning attorney, can help you understand the duties and responsibilities of an estate trustee in South Portland ME. With their knowledge and experience, you can be sure that your estate is managed properly and your wishes are respected.
Our law firm offers a free estate planning and asset protection strategy session. We will provide legal advice on how to best manage your assets. We will also provide guidance on how to protect your assets from creditors and other potential risks.
Schedule an appointment with Jackson & MacNichol and start the process of securing your legacy with an estate plan.
What is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a set of legal documents that outline how an individual’s assets and property should be managed and distributed upon their death. It typically includes a will, which names an executor or estate trustee to manage the estate, and other documents such as trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. The estate trustee is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased as outlined in the will, including distributing assets to beneficiaries, paying debts and taxes, and managing any trusts created by the deceased.
What is an Estate Trustee?
An estate trustee is a person or entity appointed to manage the assets of a deceased person’s estate. They are responsible for collecting and managing the assets, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries of the estate. Estate trustees must act in accordance with the law and the wishes of the deceased as expressed in their will. They must also act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, ensuring that all assets are properly managed and distributed.
What are the Responsibilities of an Estate Trustee in South Portland ME?
The responsibilities of an estate trustee in South Portland, Maine are:
- Locate and secure all assets of the deceased.
- Pay all debts and taxes due from the estate.
- Manage all assets of the estate.
- Distribute assets according to the terms of the will.
- Keep accurate records of all transactions related to the estate.
- Provide regular updates to beneficiaries regarding the status of the estate.
- Handle any disputes or legal issues related to the estate.
- File any necessary paperwork with the court or other government agencies.
Locate and Secure All Assets of the Deceased
Locating and securing all assets of the deceased is an important responsibility of an estate trustee. This involves identifying all assets owned by the deceased, such as bank accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles, and other personal property. It also involves taking steps to protect these assets from loss or damage, such as transferring them into the estate’s name or freezing bank accounts. The estate trustee must also ensure that all debts and taxes are paid before any assets are distributed to beneficiaries.
Pay All Debts and Taxes Due From the Estate
As an estate trustee, it is your responsibility to pay all debts and taxes due from the estate. This includes any outstanding bills, taxes, or other financial obligations that the deceased had prior to their death. It is important to ensure that all debts and taxes are paid in full before any assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. You may need to contact creditors and tax authorities to determine what is owed and make arrangements for payment. Additionally, you may need to file any necessary tax returns on behalf of the estate.
Manage all Assets of the Estate
Managing all assets of the estate as an estate trustee responsibility means taking care of all the assets that are part of the estate, including financial assets, real estate, and personal property. This includes collecting all assets, protecting them from loss or damage, and investing them in a prudent manner. It also involves paying all debts and taxes and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or trust.
Distribute Assets According to the Terms of the Will
To distribute assets according to the terms of the will means that the estate trustee must ensure that all assets are distributed in accordance with the instructions outlined in the will. This includes ensuring that all beneficiaries receive their designated share of the estate, as well as any specific gifts or bequests that have been outlined in the will. The estate trustee must also ensure that all debts and taxes are paid before any assets are distributed.
Keep Accurate Records of All Transactions Related to the Estate
Keeping accurate records of all transactions related to the estate is an important responsibility of an estate trustee. This includes keeping track of all income and expenses, maintaining detailed records of all assets and liabilities, and documenting all decisions made in relation to the estate. It is important to keep accurate records in order to ensure that the estate is managed properly and that all beneficiaries receive their rightful share of the estate. Additionally, accurate records can help to protect the estate trustee from any potential legal issues that may arise.
Provide Regular Updates to Beneficiaries Regarding the Status of the Estate
Providing regular updates to beneficiaries regarding the status of the estate is an important responsibility of an estate trustee. This includes providing information about the progress of the estate administration, such as the distribution of assets, payment of debts, and any other relevant information.
It is important to keep beneficiaries informed so that they can make informed decisions about their inheritance and be aware of any changes that may affect them. Regular updates should be provided in a timely manner and should include any relevant documents or information.
Handle Any Disputes or Legal Issues Related to the Estate
As an estate trustee, it is your responsibility to handle any disputes or legal issues related to the estate. This includes resolving any disagreements between beneficiaries, ensuring that all taxes and debts are paid, and ensuring that the estate is distributed according to the wishes of the deceased. You may also need to represent the estate in court if there are any legal issues that need to be addressed. Additionally, you may need to hire a lawyer or other professional to help you with any legal matters.
File Any Necessary Paperwork with the Court or Other Government Agencies
Filing necessary paperwork with the court or other government agencies is an important responsibility of an estate trustee. This includes filing the necessary documents to open the estate, such as the will, death certificate, and any other relevant documents. It also includes filing any necessary tax returns, such as income tax returns for the deceased and estate tax returns. Additionally, it may include filing any necessary documents to transfer assets to beneficiaries or to close the estate. It is important for an estate trustee to ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed in a timely manner to avoid any potential legal issues.
How Can Jackson & MacNichol Attorneys at Law Help You?
The Maine estate planning attorneys at Jackson & Machnichol can help you with your estate planning and asset protection in various ways. Here are some of the ways we can help:
- Drafting wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.
- Advising on the best strategies for minimizing taxes and protecting assets.
- Assisting with the probate process, including filing the necessary paperwork and representing you in court.
- Helping you create a plan for long-term care and disability planning.
- Advising on the best strategies for gifting assets to family members or charities.
- Assisting with the creation of business succession plans.
- Representing you in any disputes that may arise regarding your estate.
What are the Common Mistakes Made by Estate Trustees?
Being aware of the responsibilities of an estate trustee and following the advice in this article can help to prevent many of the mistakes that trustees often make. Common mistakes made by estate trustees include:
- closing the trust without filing a final report with the beneficiaries;
- disposing of or donating personal items without consulting the beneficiaries to see if they want them;
- selling trust assets to themselves or their children without giving the beneficiaries the opportunity to purchase them at a higher price;
- allowing others to drive vehicles owned by the trust without transferring ownership, which could lead to a lawsuit against the trust and trustee;
- failing to keep real estate owned by the trust insured; and
- discarding paperwork or records that a beneficiary may ask for, such as checks, bank statements, etc.
- neglecting to file tax returns;
Do Estate Trustees Receive Financial Compensation for their Services?
Yes, estate trustees can receive financial compensation for their services. The amount of compensation is determined by the terms of the will or trust document, or by court order.
The trustee should maintain detailed records of his or her time. The trustee should keep records of the tasks they performed, how long it took, and when and why it was done so that if anyone criticizes the compensation, the trustee can prove that it was reasonable.
How Do I Choose the Right Trustee for My Estate?
Making the right choice of trustee for your estate can be a challenging task, especially if you have children who will benefit from it. You can choose a friend or family member, lawyer/attorney, or trust company to take on the role. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account before making a decision.
For instance, appointing a close family member or friend may bring peace of mind but could also lead to family drama and resentment. On the other hand, hiring a lawyer or trust company may cost more but could also help avoid contention amongst beneficiaries.
Maine South Portland Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate planning is something that many people put off until it is too late, leaving their families to sort out their affairs in probate court. This can be costly and time-consuming, so why not work with our South Portland estate planning attorneys? An estate planning attorney can relieve you of the burden of the responsibilities of an estate trustee in South Portland ME.
Jackson & MacNichol Attorneys at Law offer a free estate planning and asset protection strategy session to anyone who is interested. Take advantage of this offer by calling us now to book an appointment.