Estate & Trust Administration
Estate administration is the legal process that settles all of a decedent’s ongoing legal affairs, and implements the plan they had created to pass on assets upon their death.
The routine process of estate administration typically starts with securing Probate Court appointment of a Personal Representative who will be responsible for the administration of the estate and implementing the terms of a decedent’s will, which may include distributions to trusts.
We help the Personal Representative identify assets and debts, and secure information, including appraisals where appropriate, to determine the value of the assets for estate administration purposes. State and federal estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns may be required, and we have substantial experience and expertise to prepare these returns, file them on a timely basis, and defend them against challenge by Maine Revenue Services and the IRS.
We also provide guidance for the liquidation of assets where appropriate in anticipation of the eventual distribution of the estate in accordance with the governing documents and pertinent law.
A team consisting of a primary lawyer, a paralegal, and possibly other professionals will help to efficiently and cost effectively administer an estate. Communication and compassion are an important element of any estate administration to help Personal Representatives who want to ensure that the beneficiaries understand the process and what it means for them.
We provide a variety of services related to trust administration. We represent both trustees and beneficiaries (although to avoid conflicts of interest, we cannot represent trustees and beneficiaries within the context of the same trust).
We can help establish the trust and transfer assets to it upon the death of a decedent whose estate plan includes a continuing trust. We can also assist in the routine annual administration of a trust, which might include maintaining the fiduciary accounting and preparing fiduciary income tax returns. We provide advice regarding the interpretation of the governing trust instrument and the tax consequences to the trust and beneficiaries of various trust administration decisions.
We also provide advice to trustees and beneficiaries regarding the administration of unusual trust assets, including business interests, real estate, works of art, and other unique assets that may present valuation, management, disposition and distribution issues.
In some circumstances it may be appropriate to consider modifying or terminating an existing trust, and we can help analyze these options. The modification or termination of a trust may be achieved using various strategies, including a Probate Court proceeding or a nonjudicial settlement agreement or other innovative techniques now available to Trustees.