The death of a loved one is typically a highly charged emotional time period filled with grief and uncertainty. Understandably, the legal ramifications of the death are often overlooked at first. At some point, however, the decedent’s estate must be addressed by starting the complex and time-consuming process of probating the decedent’s estate. If you were appointed to be the Executor of the estate in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament you will be charged with opening the probate of the estate with the appropriate court. If the decedent left behind a trust as part of his or her estate you may also find yourself appointed to be the trustee of that trust. Having an experienced estate planning attorney by your side throughout the probate and/or trust administration process will ensure that your rights are protected and that you fulfill your duties and responsibilities to the decedent and the estate properly.
At the Charleston, South Carolina law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn we understand your loss as well as the responsibilities you now face. Our competent, yet compassionate, estate planning attorneys are here to offer guidance and advice to you and your family during the probate and trust administration process. Contact the South Carolina law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn by calling 843-577-3700 or by using our online contact form today to schedule your consultation. We offer free consultations and three convenient office locations in Charleston, Summerville, and Beaufort.
The Probate Process
Unless you have been involved in the probate of an estate in South Carolina before you likely know very little about the process. Probate is the legal process that is typically required following a death. The primary goals of probate include:
- Identifying, locating, and inventorying assets owned by the decedent at the time of death
- Proving creditors of the estate the ability to file claims against the estate
- Litigating challenges or claims against the estate
- Ensuring that taxes owed by the decedent and/or the estate are paid
- Transferring assets to the intended beneficiaries or heirs of the estate
Probate is a time consuming process even when the estate is relatively modest in size. If the estate includes valuable and/or complex assets it can take years to conclude the probate of the estate. Most Executors retain the services of an estate planning attorney to assist throughout the probate process to ensure that estate assets are protected and the decedent’s wishes are honored.
If you have been named as the Trustee of a trust you have been appointed to an important position that requires knowledge, skill, and dedication to fulfill. As Trustee you have a fiduciary duty both to the trust itself and to the beneficiaries of the trust. Some common duties and responsibilities you will have as Trustee include:
- Protecting trust assets at all times
- Prudently managing and investing trust assets
- Communicating with trust beneficiaries
- Distributing trust income and/or assets according to the terms of the trust
- Making discretionary decisions regarding trust assets
- Keeping detailed records regarding trust business
- Preparing, filing, and paying taxes owed by the trust each year
Like an estate plan, a trust agreement can be relatively simple or extremely complex. Even a basic trust agreement, however, can be time consuming for the Trustee to manage and administer. The more valuable the trust assets and the more complex the trust terms the more important it is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to assist and guide you in your role as Trustee.
The South Carolina probate and trust administration attorneys at the law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn are committed to helping you navigate the legalities that commonly follow the death of a loved one so that you can concentrate on the grieving process. Contact the law firm of Kuhn & Kuhn by calling 843-577-3700 or by using our online contact form today to schedule your consultation so that we can begin helping you and your family through this difficult time.