Trust Administration

Grand Rapids and Traverse City Lawyers for Your Michigan Estate Planning Needs

After the death of a loved one, you may learn that your loved one had a trust. Living trusts allow estates to be distributed without the expensive and time-consuming involvement of probate court. When a trust is created, the person creating the trust, known as a settlor, gives instructions for who will serve as the trustee and who are the beneficiaries of the trust. The instructions will also specify which assets are in the trust, how they are to be used, and to whom they are to be distributed, as well as when they should be distributed. These matters are often complex, so retaining an estate planning lawyer may be useful. If you are tasked with trust administration, or you are a beneficiary worried about the work being done by a trustee, the Michigan trust administration attorneys at Neumann Law Group may be able to help.

Don’t Listen to Misleading Discussions of Trusts on Social Media

In recent years, many groups have proposed using trusts for various unreasonable or impossible purposes, many of which do not actually meet one’s goals. Misinformation about trusts and their benefits may be perpetuated by individuals who are not well-informed or who may have a specific agenda. Here are a few misleading benefits of trusts that may be discussed by ill-informed sources, including some social media influencers:

  • Tax Evasion Claims: Some influencers might falsely suggest that trusts are a means of evading taxes or hiding assets from tax authorities. In reality, trusts are subject to tax laws and regulations, and using trusts solely for tax evasion purposes is illegal.
  • Asset Protection Myths: There may be misleading claims that placing assets in a trust provides absolute protection from creditors and legal judgments. While trusts can offer some level of asset protection, they are not a foolproof shield against all legal claims.
  • Secrecy and Privacy Misconceptions: Some individuals may incorrectly claim that trusts provide absolute secrecy and privacy. While trusts can offer a degree of privacy, they are not completely anonymous, and details about trusts may be subject to disclosure in certain legal proceedings.
  • Inheritance Tax Elimination: Misleading information may suggest that setting up a trust can entirely eliminate or significantly reduce inheritance taxes. In reality, the tax implications of trusts vary based on the jurisdiction and the specific terms of the trust.
  • Conspiracy Theories and Government Avoidance: In some cases, individuals may spread misinformation about trusts as a tool to avoid government scrutiny or involvement. Trusts are legal entities, and they operate within the framework of established legal systems.

The Truth about Trust Administration

In spite of all the false information circulating concerning the use of trusts, there are many honest and legal uses for a trust administration attorney to protect your assets. When appointing a trustee, a settlor must appoint someone who is reliable. Often, the trustee is the settlor during the settlor’s life, but the settlor needs to make provisions for who will take over the trust and manage its assets after their death. The trustee will need to be able to follow instructions and follow Michigan law. The trustee will need to go through the process of trust administration after the settlor’s death.

Trust administration involves a wide variety of tasks and is an immense responsibility. Among other things, the person administering the trust must give notice to creditors and trust beneficiaries, provide an accounting of trust assets and income, file tax returns and pay any taxes owed, make payments as required from the trust assets, and transfer legal ownership of assets to beneficiaries according to the instructions provided. The trustee or trust administrator has a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. Our trust administration lawyers can help Traverse City and Grand Rapids residents make sure that the trustee is held to this duty.

A fiduciary duty is the highest duty that may be imposed on a person. Trustees may not misappropriate assets or act in their own best interest. They are expected to do their best job to make sure that the property is handled appropriately, according to federal and Michigan law, as well as the decedent’s instructions. It is often necessary for a trust administrator to have legal help to ensure that the assets are handled and transferred appropriately. Trust administration happens outside court, but usually beneficiaries are watching closely, and they may petition the court when there is a potential problem with how the trustee is handling their trust administration duties.

Retain an Experienced Trust Administration Attorney in Grand Rapids or Traverse City

Whether you are a trustee in Michigan who knows that you need legal assistance to properly administer a trust, or you are a beneficiary who wants to make sure that a trust administrator is doing their job, the Traverse City and Grand Rapids asset protection lawyers at Neumann Law Group may be able to help. We are familiar with the complexities that may arise in matters related to trust administration. Our firm also represents people in Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Wyoming, Saginaw, Muskegon, Midland, Holland, Warren, and Petoskey, as well as communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact Neumann Law Group at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form to set up an appointment to discuss your situation. We also are available to assist people who need a wills attorney or representation in other estate planning matters.

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