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Estate Probate – Trust Settlement

Trustee Selection

Estate Probate – Trust Settlement

Whether you are worried about settling your own estate and the burden it places on your loved ones, or you are responsible for settling the estate of your parents or spouse, we are here to help.  The philosophy of Legacy Architects is to provide an estate plan and a formal process to keep the plan up to date, that will: (i) allow you and your loved ones to avoid probate; (ii) keep the process private and your family in control; (iii) provide your family with tax planning tools for your estate; (iv) ensure your assets go to the individuals you select; (v) protect your estate from your creditors, and your children’s creditors; and (vi) pass on your wisdom with your wealth.

In order for all this to happen, someone must pick up your estate plan after you are disabled or die, and actually use the plan.  Attorneys call this “trust settlement”.  The estate plan is not a magic book and it will not implement itself.  Your helpers (successor trustees) will need to settle the trust, and we are here to help them.

Estate Probate

Our goal is for the estates of our clients who participate in our Formal Maintenance Program to never go to probate.  However, we understand that many of our clients will be responsible for settling the estates of their parents and loved ones and probate will be required.  We are here to help you with the probate administration, and we will walk you through the process during that emotional time.  Even in the case of a lost spouse, you cannot assume that probate is unnecessary.  The first meeting with us to discuss the estate of your parents, or siblings is complimentary, even if they were not one of our clients.  In most cases we will be able to quote you a flat onetime fee to complete the entire process.

Trust Settlement

Having a properly drafted trust that is fully funded and kept up to date will allow your estate to avoid the probate system altogether.  However, that does not mean that there is no work for the successor trustees, even when the beneficiary is the spouse.  The process of wrapping up all of the affairs of the deceased family member, and implementing all of their wishes as provided in their trust, is called “trust settlement”.

The benefit of trust settlement is that it is handled privately by the trustees, and in most cases there are no judges or third party lawyers involved.  There is only the trustee and the attorney and CPA selected by the trustee to complete the trust settlement.  It is very important that a trust be settled correctly in order to avoid complicated tax or legal problems later.  More importantly, a trust will provide many financial benefits and legal protections to all of the beneficiaries for their life time, but only if it is properly settled in the first place.  If you are a trustee you should not try to settle a trust without legal and tax advice, the trustee can be held liable for mistakes in the process.  In most cases we are able to provide you with our trust settlement services for one flat fee.

Why Do I Need An Attorney For Probate or Trust Settlement?
  • Probate is a complicated legal process and mistakes can cost your heirs and your personal representative.
  • A quality probate and trust attorney can save you considerable time and money through both the probate and trust settlement process.
  • You don’t know all of the options, so you won’t know what you missed unless you have the advice and council of a qualified attorney.
  • Most of the problems caused by improper estate probate or trust settlement are usually not discovered for years and then they are much more difficult to resolve.
  • The attorney can serve as a neutral third party to resolve issues between family members and trustees.

Peace of Mind

Settling someone’s estate in probate or through trust settlement can be a very stressful and burdensome process for the individual who takes on the mantel of trustee or personal representative.  More than anything else, the thing you get from working with Legacy Architects is Peace of Mind.  Nothing can eliminate the work or responsibility involved with settling an estate, but with Legacy Architects you and your family will have a plan and the support you need to do it right.  And once you are part of our family, we are always just a phone call away.

Matthew V. Piwowar is an Estate Planning and Business Law Attorney, and a member of the State Bar of Michigan, and the Michigan Forum of Estate Planners.