June 7, 2011
Filed under: Estate Administration,Probate,Probate Litigation — Christopher J. Berry @ 11:59 pm
Our Michigan probate litigation law firm has handled a few probate litigation cases from clients in the Farmington Hills area. It’s like coming full circle since I grew up in Farmington Hills area. Specifically, I grew up in on 11 mile near Middlebelt, in Farmington Hills.
Who knew I’d grow up to be a probate lawyer servincing clients in Farmington Hills, Michigan?
Estate planning with revocable living trusts answer at least three main questions which includes: Who gets what? How do you minimize settlement costs, such as probate and estate taxes? And, who is in control after the trustmaker passes away?
Barron’s has a great article entitled “The Five Biggest Ways to Bungle a Trust” that describes many of the mistakes that do-it-yourselfers face when they go at trust administration alone. As Michigan trust administration and Oakland county probate lawyers, we are often brought in to clean up theses messes.
The first way people screw up trust administration involves keeping faulty records. Generally trustees in Michigan must provide at least annual accountings to the beneficiaries. Often, these accountings are slapped together at the last minute by an overwhelmed trustee. As Michigan trust administration and estate administration lawyers, we professionally manage this process for our clients. Whether we handle it in-house or outsource it to highly qualified CPA’s, our client’s understand that it’s professionally done and the beneficiaries of the trust appreciate the clarity.
Another way that trustees botch the trust administration process is by failing to diversify the trust assets. It may be tempting to sit on a big chunk of a single stock, but often times, as prudent investors, it’s important for the trustee to diversify the portfolio so as to minimize risk for the beneficiaries.
Yet another trustee issue we see is that of biased distributions. Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the current beneficiaries and the remaindermen. Therefore, a trustee cannot favor one beneficiary over another or allow any personal bias into the decision making.
The fourth area we, as Oakland county trust administration lawyers, see trustees making poor judgements is in the concept of the trustee expecting a payday. Trustees, when acting without the aid of an trust administration attorney, often expect at the end of the day they will get a windfall for the efforts, when in reality, more often than not, they are only entitled to reasonable expenses and fees. Quite often this is a source of probate or trust litigation.
Lastly, as a trustee acting alone, often times we’ll see that they have a false sense of safety. A trustee acting without experienced Michigan trust administration counsel can feel that there is an entitlement and honor in serving the role of trustee at the other beneficiaries will defer to any judgements or decisions you make. This generally cannot be further from the truth. Quite often beneficiaries are looking for any little mistake a trustee makes, even in the best of families.