Trust & Probate Administration

Trust Administration:  By law, a Trustee owes fiduciary duties to all present and future beneficiaries of a Trust under administration.  This means that a Trustee can be held legally responsible for actions taken as Trustee.  Obtaining the advice or assistance of an attorney whose practice specializes in Trust Administration is the best way to avoid making the kinds of mistakes that invite dispute and legal action.  We provide services ranging from merely advising Trustees to complete trust administration and accounting services depending upon the complexity of the matter and desires of the client.

Probate Administration:  When the value of assets stuck in a deceased person’s name exceeds $150,000.00, the estate must be administered through a probate proceeding in the courts of the county where the decedent resided. Our probate administration practice encompasses all issues related to the administration of an estate through probate including provision of required notices, the payment of debts and taxes, the preparation of accountings, and the distribution of assets.  For some estates, a probate administration is desirable and appropriate because the Court oversees the actions of the personal representative (executor or administrator) and, upon completion of the administration, the Court releases the personal representative from any further responsibility and liability.

Timeline and Costs:  Probate court oversight comes with significant time and cost burdens.  The best case scenario timeline for a probate administration is eight months because the proceeding must remain open for a minimum of four months and, depending upon the county, it can take up to two months to get hearing dates to formally open and close the proceeding.  The attorney and the personal representative receive compensation from the estate at the end of the proceeding when the court approves the petition for settlement and final distribution.  The compensation for each is calculated as a percentage of the gross assets of the estate under California Probate Code §§ 10800 – 10814.  There are also fees charged for the filing of petitions, publication of notice, and valuation of assets.  Someone usually needs to advance approximately $700 to get the probate administration started.  These fees are expenses of administration and the Court authorizes reimbursement to the person who makes the advance.

Probate Shortcuts:  Alternative administration may be available when the value of assets stuck in a deceased person’s name are less than $150,000.00.  We routinely assist clients administering small estate estates with affidavits to transfer financial accounts as well as summary probate proceedings for real and personal property of limited value.

Your Initial Consultation:  We always do an initial consultation without charge or sales pressure to discuss the estate dynamics.  By the end of that initial meeting we will have the information we need to prepare initial documents and you will have the information you need for your decision to retain us.  We always encourage potential clients to feel free to shop around to compare styles and validate the competitiveness of our rates.  You will receive the follow-up letter and proposed services agreement by mail a few days later.  Contact us now to schedule a phone consult or a meeting at one of our convenient east bay offices.

A Simple Philosophy:  Our estate administration philosophy is simply this: (1) you should be made aware of and educated on all of the fiduciary responsibilities and potential liabilities that arise in estate administration; (2) the beneficiaries and all parties entitled to notice should be kept informed as to administration issues and progress; (3) the administration should proceed promptly with appropriate assets accounted for to the penny; and (4) we should exceed your service expectations.