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Stewart + Gordon
Purpose and Peace of Mind

Estate and Trust Administration

Wrapping Things Up and Moving Forward

 

probate administration

When assets of any kind are owned solely in the name of a deceased person, we’ll likely need to interact with the probate process on some level. The good news is that Colorado’s probate process is among the most streamlined in the nation. Even without a will, it is not always necessary to “go to court,” or engage in anything that resembles a trial.

But, as with all things, it’s hard until it’s easy. For better or worse, most people won’t find themselves with a need to become experts in this. With fears of somehow doing something wrong or making a mistake that could lead to misunderstanding or conflict among family members, it’s worth doing right the first time.

After getting a feel for what is in the estate and what your goals and concerns are, we can decide together what level of our involvement is most appropriate. We’ll prepare needed legal filings, help you communicate with the heirs of the estate, ward off any potential disputes down the road, ensure that expenses and debts are handled appropriately, and help you time decisions about what to do to and when to wrap things up.

Remember, if you are administering an estate, you are a fiduciary.

Trust administration

When the assets of a deceased person are part of a trust, the legal processes are much simpler, but there is still work to be done. The new trustee is a fiduciary as well, and so there’s an obligation to handle everything appropriately.

As with all types of matters, we begin with a discussion about your goals, concerns, and what’s actually at stake. This dictates our approach and the extent of our involvement, as well as potential fee. While we do not need to engage with the probate court, many of the principles still apply to keep track of properties and decisions, communicate with beneficiaries, family members, resolve debts and expenses, and know when to call the job done. We can help.

Many of our clients choose to leave their heirs with powerful tools to protect their inheritance through ongoing use of the trust. For example, Sally may die leaving her two children, Alex and Bonnie, their inheritance through the Sally Trust. Once Sally’s affairs are resolved, the Sally Trust essentially dissolves into what becomes the Alex Trust and the Bonnie Trust. Alex and Bonnie will have a strong incentive to maintain the Alex Trust and the Bonnie Trust. We can help make sure those are all established properly and provide ongoing guidance as needed.

when problems come up

Sometimes problems arise even in the best-planned estates. The better the planning, generally the better the set of tools that we’re left with to resolve the problem.

If you started the work of administering the estate or trust of a loved one and are realizing you’re not sure how to handle problems that have come up, please get in touch. The sooner the better. We can probably still get on track and resolve things.

If you are worried that the person handling the estate or trust is not doing an appropriate job, if you have not heard from that person for some time, if you feel like things are taking longer than expected to resolve, these are all potential red flags. It may be time to get an attorney of your own. Oftentimes, miscommunications arise due to family issues that are relieved somewhat through the involvement of a courteous but formal inquiry through an attorney. We strive to be peacemakers and will not stir the pot any more than necessary, but we will be aggressive when needed to help get things back on track or get things in front of a court to push towards resolution.

If we discover together that things aren’t being handled appropriately, our fee can often be absorbed in the general cost to the estate or trust. This is not a sure thing, so please be prepared to discuss our fees after presenting us with your situation. Sometimes we can make initial inquiries for a modest fee and go from there.