One of the primary reasons people create trusts for their estates is to avoid probate and the associated attorney and court fees. It also better maintains privacy. But a trust doesn’t guarantee that you won’t need probate. And that’s a good thing.
A well-drafted trust properly managed by a responsible trustee certainly can avoid probate. But some estate issues require the assistance of probate court. Probate provides a way to resolve problems that may come up in settling an estate. Here are a few common problems that probate can help resolve:
1. Who should be the trustee?
2. How much should the trustee seek to be reimbursed for managing the trust?
3. What happens when a trustee who is not familiar with applicable rules, tax
rules and state-specific rules makes a mistake in managing the trust?
Many do-it-yourself legal services claim that the biggest benefit of creating a trust is avoiding probate. These services try to make it simple for people to create their own trust without paying for an attorney. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of process. Just as each person is different, so is each person’s estate. You’re going to run into problems if you standardize a process that should be tailored to your individual situation.
One common error people make with standardized trusts is failing to transfer assets to the trust or misplacing one or more pages. This usually requires the trustee to seek help from the probate court.
Remember that probate court was created to help resolve problems specific to your unique situation. Probate gives recourse to both heirs and trustees if they feel something wasn’t handled correctly. The ability to go to court to solve questions and problems is a good thing.
If you have any questions about trusts or other estate planning issues, let me know. Leave your questions below or contact our office.