Think estate planning is only about drafting a last will and testament or allocating assets? It is not! It is actually about  the creation of your legacy as well as a smooth transition for the management of your estate after you pass away. Are you seeking a way to create an estate plan that can establish your legacy with the least amount of burden on your loved ones? Then you will want to know that among the various estate planning tools available, trust agreements are distinctive for both their efficiency and flexibility. 

If you do create a trust, what happens after you pass away? This is where trust administration becomes active. What does that mean? Trust administration, unlike Wisconsin probate, allows you to reach many of the goals you have for your legacy and protect what matters most to you for years to come.

Be aware that trust administration is the process that occurs after the death of the trust creator, who may also be known as the settlor or grantor. It involves managing and distributing the assets held within the trust according to the instructions laid out in the trust agreement itself. Unlike the assets that may pass to beneficiaries through a last will and testament, those in a trust typically do not undergo the probate process, which can be lengthy, costly, and public. Instead, trust administration is a private, court-independent process carried out by the appointed trustee and an experienced trust administration attorney.

What about the role of the trustee? The role of the trustee is multifaceted and includes responsibilities such as notifying beneficiaries and relevant parties about the trust, taking inventory and managing the trust’s assets, settling any outstanding debts or taxes owed by the trust, and ultimately, distributing the assets to the beneficiaries as per the trust’s terms. This streamlined approach is designed to ensure the distribution of assets is completed efficiently and according to the grantor’s wishes, all while minimizing the emotional and financial strain on the beneficiaries.

You need to know that trust administration can vary in complexity, depending on the size of the estate, the types of assets involved, and the specific directions provided in the trust to establish your legacy. It requires a thorough understanding of fiduciary duties and a meticulous approach to ensure that all aspects of the trust are managed and executed properly. Given the intricacies involved, trust administration underscores the importance of establishing a well-crafted trust agreement with the guidance of an experienced Wisconsin estate planning attorney. Such foresight ensures that your estate is handled with the care and precision it deserves, paving the way for a smooth and effective transition of the legacy you created and want to pass on to your loved ones.

Estate planning is a crucial step in managing your financial legacy, offering peace of mind that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes with minimal burden on your loved ones. On the other hand, trusts offer a level of flexibility and control that wills alone cannot. Creators can work with their attorney to create specific conditions under which beneficiaries receive their inheritance, potentially protecting assets from creditors, divorce settlements, and other legal challenges.

Often people want an alternative to the probate process and trust administration offers a compelling alternative, providing a more efficient, private, and cost-effective way to manage and distribute their estate. However, the creation and management of a trust requires careful planning and legal expertise. Working with an experienced Wisconsin estate planning attorney can ensure that your trust is structured to meet your goals and that your estate is administered smoothly, respecting your legacy and providing for your loved ones according to your wishes.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers.  As an estate planning and elder law firm, we urge our clients to take advantage of these tools and resources, ensuring comprehensive financial health and security. We want to help you protect your aging relatives. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.