Your Responsibilities as a Trustee of an Estate

Your Responsibilities as a Trustee of an Estate

A trustee is a person who acts as a custodian for all the assets contained within a trust. This individual is tasked with administering and managing the money within the trust based on the given instructions. In many cases, the trustee is the person who creates the trust until they can no longer fill the role.

When this happens, a successor trustee takes over the tasks. Responsibilities can include everything from filing taxes on income the trust makes to recording income and expenses and distributing funds to the right people while keeping records of all transactions.

The largest role of a trustee is to ensure they act in the best interest of the trust. As such, it’s important to choose someone as a trustee who will put their own goals to the side while they follow the trust’s instructions.

The Responsibilities of a Trustee

As you can see, trustees have several responsibilities. However, the most important is to follow the directions of the trust. This is the key to protecting your legacy. You should realize that this role has a variety of requirements. We’ll share some of the most common below.

Acting as a Fiduciary

A fiduciary is someone who is held to the highest standards in terms of protecting the distribution and investments of the trust. Some people believe that the trustee should be more diligent with matters of the trust than they are with even their own financial accounts and investments.

Understand the Trust Terms

The assets within a trust should stay safe, so a trustee needs to be aware of the terms outlined in it. This person should be aware of who all beneficiaries are and review the records to ensure they are accurate and in good order.

Answer Questions

Answering beneficiary questions is a large part of being a trustee. It’s a trustee’s job to find out answers and then get that information to the person who asked quickly. Making sure the answers are correct and sent out to the right people is essential.

Tracking Records

Trustees will need to file and prepare tax returns but it doesn’t stop there. Trustees also need to keep all statements and records filed and organized so they can easily be looked at whenever needed.

If you have a trust that needs to be updated or you want to start a trust, speak with an attorney at Bell & Shah, who is experienced with this facet of law. Learn more about estate planning, including who to use as a trust for the best results.

What Is a Legal Description of Property Document?

What Is a Legal Description of Property Document?

Curious what a legal description of property document is? It’s a very short document, usually only about five sentences long, which describes a piece of real estate. In most cases, the legal description of property comes with a survey sketch as a visual way to determine the boundaries of a property.

This is an essential document in real estate transactions since it is a unique identifier to ensure everyone knows the details about the property that is being sold. A description of property is created by legal professionals but may be written in various ways depending on the property and its location.

What Is Included in the Document?

Several things must be included in legal descriptions of property. The following should be contained somewhere within the document:

  • Information about the subdivision, town, or county
  • The complete acreage of the real estate property
  • All of the defining features of the land
  • Where the exact boundary lines of the property can be found

As such, a legal description of property is not the same as the address of the property. While the address helps you find the property on a map, addresses can change. A legal description of property has the specific boundaries of the property and how much land is sold. While it can be more complicated and longer, it’s also more precise.

When Do You Need a Legal Description of Property?

The main time when a legal description of property is needed is when ownership of real estate is moved from one person to another. As such, the legal description is most often included in property deeds and signifies what piece of property is being described.

However, it will also be in sales contracts, mortgage papers, and other legal documents related to land. The main purpose of the legal description of property is to ensure everyone involved knows the boundaries of the real estate that is being sold. It is required to transfer the property to another owner.

In some cases, the legal description of property may also be used in disputes between neighbors over the boundaries of property. A surveyor will look at the description as a way to decide who is correct in the dispute.

If you need a legal description of property, The attorneys at Bell & Shah can help you with creating the document. It has exact boundaries and will be needed if you plan to sell a piece of property. Several methods can be used to determine the boundaries depending on the situation.

Why Parents Should Consider Creating an Estate Plan

Why Parents Should Consider Creating an Estate Plan

When preparing to have a first child, the number of things you need to do often seems endless. Everything from thinking about daycare to furnishing a nursery and buying a car seat can quickly fill a to-do list. Some of these things can be stressful but still worth it as you think about how your life is going to change.

However, one thing you may not have thought about is the need to make an estate plan. Making a will and naming guardians to care for the child also may be things you haven’t considered.

However, these are crucial steps to take in case tragedy hits your family while a child is still young. We’ll explain why having an estate plan is so essential below.

Opens Up Important Conversations

You may not have thought about who would raise your child if the worst happens. Or maybe you always assumed your parents would do so. However, these are only assumptions and things can change as time goes on. Grandparents might move away, have health issues, or otherwise be unable to step in if something terrible happens.

Having open conversations about your thoughts will help you make solid plans. These conversations might not be easy but they are essential. You’ll know who to name as guardian if you are unable to raise your child.

Avoids Court Battles

If you don’t have an estate plan and pass away, your loved ones who survive may argue about who should raise the child. In the worst case, this could result in a trip to the courtroom. When this occurs, a judge will be tasked with deciding who should take care of your child.

This can be stressful for everyone, especially a small child. The person you might have chosen to care for your child could end up losing. While appeals are possible, the winner is usually the person who was chosen by the first judge.

Prevents Fighting

Another thing people may fight about if you don’t have an estate plan is who gets your property, money, and more. An estate plan notes who gets what to avoid additional disputes if you pass away.

It’s best to have a will, a power of attorney, and a healthcare power of attorney to avoid any confusion. If you have not had an estate plan made and have a child on the way, reach out to the attornies at Bell & Shah today. It’s something you want to have available as soon as possible.

The Steps of Probate

The Steps of Probate

Below, we will be looking at the basics of the steps of probate. To understand the ins and outs of probate further, get in touch with an attorney at Bell & Shah Law.

Step 1: Determine if There Is a Will

When someone dies, the first step is to see whether a will exists and whether it is valid or not. This will determine whether there is an executor or an administrator. If there is a will, then it may name someone as the executor. If there is not a will, there will be an administrator. The administrator is appointed by the court.

Step 2: Gather Information and Begin Duties

The representative of the estate (executor or administrator) will then take possession of the property and ensure it is safe until it is all distributed. Those who take this role have a lot of responsibilities. The person who is named as the executor might be a family member or friend. However, it could also be an attorney.

The representative will ensure that all debts are paid and will locate the Will if one exists. They will collect assets and death benefits, get certified copies of the death certificate, check out safety deposit boxes, manage digital assets, notify the Franchise Tax Board, and notify the Social Security Administration if the decedent was receiving monthly social security benefits.

Step 3. Finding Beneficiaries and Heirs

In addition to the above duties, the representative will also need to find the heirs and beneficiaries. They may be named in the will. If there is not a will or if there are other issues, the representative will have to look for other ways of finding the rightful heirs and beneficiaries. This could be living trust, joint tenancy agreements, etc.

Step 4: Inventorying Property

The representative also has to identify all of the decedent’s property and items mentioned in the will. They will need to take a full inventory, as well, and make sure that everything is there and in order.

Step 5: Transferring the Property to the Right People

Once they know the beneficiaries and the property, they need to make sure that everyone gets what they are supposed to receive. They also need to determine the best way to transfer it to those people.

Talk with an Attorney

If you are looking to put together a will and you want to name an executor, or if you need to know more about what could happen during probate and how to avoid it, talk with an attorney at Bell & Shah Law today!

Using an Attorney to Set Up Your Small Business

Using an Attorney to Set Up Your Small Business

When you are starting up a small business, you have a lot on your plate. You want things to be as smooth and simple as possible, but we all know that things don’t always work out this way. Issues often arise, and you need to make sure you are handling them the right way. If those problems stem from your product or your messaging, you can probably handle them… but they might involve matters best left to an attorney.

There are countless benefits of using an attorney to help set up your small business. Let’s look at some of the best reasons to work with these lawyers below.

Help Choosing the Right Business Structure

This is one of the most important early steps when you are setting up your business. if you don’t structure properly from the start, it could cause problems for you later. For example, you might be exposed to more liability if you aren’t an LLC. You might not fully understand the tax implications of the different structure options. An attorney can help you with this.

Contract Creation and Review

Even small businesses will be dealing with all manner of contracts and agreements. It might be rental agreements, employee contracts, freelancer contracts, etc. Regardless, you will find that having an attorney go over these agreements and contracts before you sign them or give them to people to sign is essential. It can help to keep you from making a costly mistake.

Reduce the Risk of Lawsuits

Working with an attorney will ensure that your business is legal and that you are following the state and federal employment laws. This will reduce the chance of you making mistakes that could land you in hot legal water.

Protection of Intellectual Property

You need to be sure all of your intellectual property is protected. This includes things like original works, logos, inventions, product designs, etc. Your attorney can ensure you have all of the proper paperwork filed for copyright, trademark, patent, etc. It’s best to do this as soon as possible.

Get in Touch with an Attorney

As you can see, there are some great advantages to using an attorney when you are setting up your small business. Keep in mind that you don’t need to hire a full-time attorney for your business at this stage. Instead, you can simply employ the services of the attorneys at Bell & Shah, when you need them. Contact Bell & Shah today to see how we can help your business with.

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