Mom and Dad had a trust to avoid probate. Do we need to hire a lawyer? - AgingCare.com

Mom and Dad had a trust to avoid probate. Do we need to hire a lawyer?

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My mom and dad were well prepared and established a trust for their finances. My Dad died in March; my sisters and I were with my Mom earlier as she had a massive stroke. She died without pain and with us at the bedside.

We are now calling people and setting up the funeral. Just wondered about next steps: do we need to have an attorney if there is a trust and no contest to the will? An accountant? Anyone else been through this who can advise as to whether or not we need a professional for this? And if so, which kind?

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Having a trust that is FUNDED can really save a lot of legal expenses and hassle upon the death of the grantor (person who created the trust). However, as others have mentioned, there are often at least some assets that were not titled in the name of the trust at the time of the grantor's death.
Even if everything was indeed titled in the name of the trust, the complex legal language of a trust can be difficult for a layperson to understand, so having an attorney who specializes in wills and trusts (estate planning) read through the document and explain to you what needs to be done will most likely be necessary for all but the very simplest of trusts.
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Even though your parents had a trust, there may be pour over wills as well to deal with any assets that are not able to be in the trust. You need to contact the attorney who drew up the trust as well as your parents' accountant or financial advisor to find out if they also had assets outside the trust.
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If the trust was done correctly, there is no need for a will. Trusts are private unlike a will, so having it "contested" would be hard to do. The trust should have had all the assets owned by trust so assets pass outside of probate according to trust document. Contact the attorney who did the document as there will be filings that have to be done to change ownership of assets or distribution and really they can do this much easier & correctly than your attempting.
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I've worked with two law firms specializing in trusts and eldercare. In both cases I was told to call them IMMEDIATELY when there was a death of either of my parents. When my father passed we then went to the law offices after the funeral and new trust documents were prepared moving things from the "Mom and Dad Smith" trust, to the "Mom Smith" trust. Did you have things changed when your first parent passed?

Now that both parents have passed, the Trust needs to do its work and move assets to those designated in the Trust. The law firm that prepared the trust will know what to do and how to do it correctly. You need to contact them so that the remaining Trust assets are moved to you and your siblings correctly, all taxes are paid, and the Trust is closed. It will cost to used the law firm, and that is money well spent.
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You need a lawyer, contact the one who wrote the Will or established the Trust, because if you do this incorrectly, there can be fiscal penalties. If the estate is fairly simple, one hour with an attorney will be money well spent.
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In my experience, with my FIL, once he passed, my husband was executor. He took over, got copies of the death certificate (a LOT as I recall, everybody needed one) and began the seemingly endless task of sorting things out. I believe he made one phone call to the atty who drew up the trust. He didn't even charge us, just told Hubs what to do. Hubby was already on the checking acct, he simply "liquidated" everything. First, paid all the bills, then began selling, giving away physical assests. There was some drama, as of course you'd expect, but all in all, in this case, it went fine. Took more than a year to get it all done, but I think that's normal. Not a huge estate--under $500,000, so maybe that helped.
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Midkid58, a Will does not eliminate the need for probate. Even a small estate of less than 30K has to have a fiduiciary filed at county court.
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Please find a good estate lawyer. Your parents already had a will (each) correct?
The estate lawyer will help you, combine the wills and the trust and make distributions to all beneficiaries. His fee is well worth the trouble. Don't hesitate.
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Who is the Trustee? Is it same as Executor? I wouldn't get all excited about disbursing the Trust, until if and when their home (s) or other real estate, vehicles, and business properties are sold (if they are to be sold). Also are there any outstanding bills? You must not divide the Trust accounts, until notice of death & any creditors have been paid. I'm not a lawyer, but you need to make sure those bills are paid. Yes the trust is a separate entity from your parents, but (here I'm fuzzy on details) the trust needs to pay any outstanding bills incurred by parents, unless some lawyer can correct my lack of details here.
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Be aware. I hired 3. Elder care attys on a pretty big estate over a million they all messed up and bold faced lied to us. Dont take anyones word if they yell u something go home sbd check it there is a wealth of info on the internet. They also like ti take ur case and let it sit there and charge u 400 an hour.I dont know what state u live in but u usually have 9 months to wrap it up.good luck to u. thanks
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