Have You Been Appointed to Be An Executor or Trustee?
If you’ve been appointed as trustee or executor of a deceased person’s trust or estate, you will likely need help from a lawyer to fulfill your duties. Wrapping up an estate or administering a trust requires great attention to detail and -- almost always -- a firm understanding of relevant laws, practical strategies, and local customs. It is rare not to get professional help when taking on the duties of an executor or trustee.
You were probably chosen for the job because you were close to the deceased person, familiar with the person’s property, or perhaps because you just have a good head on your shoulders. Rest assured that you can still be part of the process of wrapping up an estate or managing trust property. If you want to do much of the work yourself, you can hire a lawyer as a guide (and to do the really tricky work). Or, you can have the lawyer do the bulk of the tasks.
A trust and estates lawyer can help you:
- decide if you should accept the role of trustee or executor
- explain what the job will entail
- interpret the will or trust
- identify beneficiaries
- manage trust or estate property
- distribute the deceased person’s property
- address disputes with or among beneficiaries
- deal with taxes
- provide ongoing trust or estate management
- connect you with other needed professionals, like appraisers or accountants
- manage court proceedings (like probate), and
- answer questions about how the trust and estate law affects your situation.
Dealing with probate, beneficiaries, and property can be overwhelming -- especially after the death of a loved one. Hiring a lawyer to help you wrap up an estate or manage a trust will likely provide great relief.
Looking for a Lawyer?
At Lawyers.com, you’ll find a user-friendly search tool that allows you to tailor results by area of law and geography. You can also search for attorneys by name. Attorney profiles prominently display contact information, list topics of expertise, and show ratings—by both clients and other legal professionals.
Ready to Meet With a Lawyer?
Before hiring a lawyer to help you wrap up an estate or manage a trust, make sure to speak directly—preferably in person—to the attorney who will be helping you. Consider bringing to the conversation a list of questions and any documentation related to the deceased person’s estate. Remember that you don’t need to hire the first lawyer you consult and that, first and foremost, you want a lawyer you trust.
What to Ask a Lawyer
When gathering your thoughts and documents, think about what you’ll want to ask the lawyer. Consider including on your list questions about:
- the lawyer’s experience with similar estates or trusts
- how much of the work you can do on your own or under the lawyer’s guidance
- the lawyer’s familiarity with the local probate court
- attorneys’ fees and other related expenses (like court fees)
- the attorney-client privilege
- who else will work on your case
- how long it will take to resolve the estate or trust, and
- the lawyer’s initial impressions of your situation.