A trustee can also perform estate administrative functions

On behalf of Scaringi Law posted in Estate Planning on Saturday, December 13, 2014.

When it comes to probate-avoiding strategies, readers may naturally think of trusts. Yet even if an estate had trusts instead of a will, there may be administrative matters that require attention.

For example, one of the purposes of probate is to provide notice to creditors, so that debts of the decedent’s debts can be paid in a timely fashion. Another purpose is to transfer assets that were solely in the decedent’s name to their intended beneficiaries. A trustee can also perform these functions, provided the trust documentation authorizes him or her to do so.

For example, the trustee of a revocable trust or living trust actually performs task that are comparable to that of a personal representative in connection with the administration of a probate estate. Those duties may begin with the filing of a notice of trust with the clerk of the court in the decedent’s county of residence. Otherwise, a trustee usually does not have to file estate administration documents with the clerk of court.

The Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act codifies various notice requirements in regards to trusts. The law also clarifies a creditor’s rights against certain types of trusts, such as spendthrift or discretionary trusts. That being said, an attorney knows that trusts can be part of an effective strategy to reduce taxes or protect assets from a beneficiary's creditors.

To learn more about strategies for efficient estate administration, check out our firm’s website page on wills, trusts and estates. There are a variety of legal, financial and insurance instruments that can accomplish specific directives regarding the distribution of assets.

Source: Pennsylvania General Assembly, “Title 20”

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