Probate and Trust Administration

Vogt Law Firm provides assistance to executors and trustees with the responsibility of settling an estate. Often probate or trust administration is overwhelming to a lay-person.

Probate is a court-supervised process for distributing the individually-owned assets of a deceased person. Assets are distributed to beneficiaries in accordance to the instructions written in the deceased person’s will.

Estate planning can be compared to designing the blueprint of a building; estate administration is the labor involved to build the house. The process begins with an event that triggers a provision in your estate plan, such as incapacity or death. The plan becomes executory, meaning that the individuals you designated in your plan documents must take action and execute your plan according to your instructions.

Estate administration can be complex, and often the people you have designated need competent and experienced legal counsel to guide them through the process. They must make important decisions, sometimes quickly, and they need help to make them wisely. They may need to prepare inventories of your property, prepare tax returns, or sign other important documents on your behalf. Ultimately your executor or trustee must divide and distribute your property to those individuals or charities you identified in your will or trust agreement.

The estate administration process involves responsibilities. Sometimes the responsibilities are a burden, which we can help carry. In a sensitive and efficient manner, your loved ones will be guided through the probate and trust administration process.

pour-over will is a will associated with forming a trust agreement.  It is a will with a safety-net provision that ensures that any property you fail to transfer to your living trust during your life will be transferred to your trust through the probate process. It will transfer all non-trust assets to your trust that are not controlled by beneficiary designations or by ownership with a joint tenant. When you form a living trust one of the goals is to avoid probate by ensuring that your pour-over will controls nothing. In order to avoid probate, you must transfer all your assets to your trust during your life. Your pour-over will is merely your backup to ensure that all your assets are ultimately controlled by your living trust.

Persons who fail to plan during their lives and die without creating a will or living trust (along with the pour-over will), die intestate. Each state has laws that dictate how an intestate person’s property will be distributed leaving you with absolutely no control. Property may go to people you do not want and in ways that you never intended.  Dying intestate means no tax planning was done on your behalf. Dying intestate makes the probate process more difficult for your loved ones.