Probate may not be necessary if a deceased person had a properly executed and funded Trust, although trust administration is still necessary.
Trust administration refers to a trustee’s management of trust property according to the trust document’s terms and for the benefit of the beneficiaries after the settlor’s death. Many steps are required to safeguard effective administration. It is recommended to work with an attorney to help facilitate the process for the trustee throughout the process.
Having a revocable trust can avoid probate by affecting the transfer of assets during your lifetime to the trustee, thus avoiding the need to use the probate process to make the transfer after your death. The trustee has immediate authority to manage the trust assets at your death; appointment by the court is not necessary.
However, the “funding” of a revocable trust is critical to successfully avoid probate. Those persons who do not fully fund their trusts often need both a probate administration for the non-trust assets as well as a trust administration to completely distribute the assets.
The advantages of a trust administration over a probate proceeding include a potentially quicker distribution of the property to beneficiaries, a greater degree of privacy due to there being no court supervision of the process and, in most cases, a much less expensive manner of distributing property to beneficiaries.
Scott Toney is experienced in Florida Trust Administration and can provide legal guidance to successor trustees who must administer an estate. If you are a successor trustee, our office would be happy to inform and assist you in administering the trust, whether or not we drafted the original documents.
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