What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised procedure for validating a will (if there is one), paying debts, and distributing the property of a deceased person. The procedure lasts about one year. A total of about six percent (6%) of your estate is paid to your attorney and executor for their services. The statutory Probate fees and Commissions are as follows:

Statutory Probate Fees and Commissions

 Calculate the amount according to the chart below and then multiply by two (2), since this amount will be paid once to the attorney and again to the Executor. 

This Chart gives an example of the fees paid depending on the gross value of the estate.

The calculation is made as follows:

Size of EstateAttorney FeeExecutor FeeTotal Fee

Trust Administration

What is Trust Administration?

A Trustee is responsible for: collecting and securing trust assets; paying trust expenses; investing trust assets; collecting trust income; keeping accurate records of all transactions; and distributing income and principal to beneficiaries in accordance with the provisions of the trust document. Sometimes the person who created the trust (known as the “settlor” or the “grantor”) may direct that the trust pay all of the debts, taxes, funeral expenses and administration expenses of the grantor’s estate. If the trust instrument so directs, the Trustee will have those responsibilities as well.

A Trustee should keep in mind the following three key concepts as he or she performs his or her duties as Trustee:

  • Accurate record-keeping is crucial to the proper administration of a trust. A Trustee is required to keep detailed records of all transactions, and the Trustee must make certain that the trust assets are not commingled with his or her assets or with the assets of any other individual, entity, estate or trust.
  • The law imposes duties of loyalty and fairness on all Trustees. A Trustee must administer the trust solely for the benefit of the beneficiaries and display the utmost fairness in any dealings with the beneficiaries.
  • The trust document and applicable law dictate the Trustee’s duties. A Trustee must exercise all “mandatory powers” granted in the trust document or the Trustee may be held liable for resulting damages and possibly removed as Trustee.

If the provisions of the trust instrument and applicable law allow, the Trustee may delegate various powers and discretions granted to the Trustee to any appropriate person, firm or corporation. The Trustee may delegate these tasks for any period, and the Trustee has the power to revoke any such delegation. For example, the power to delegate may permit the Trustee to hire an investment manager for the trust’s assets, who would have the authority to buy and sell assets without first consulting the Trustee. This delegation, however, will not exonerate the Trustee from liability for improper performance or lack of performance of the delegated tasks.

Trustee’s Duties and Responsibilities 

A Trustee has the duty to:

  • Secure possession of trust assets. 
  • Make trust property productive. 
  • Exercise powers granted in trust instrument. 
  • Make payments to beneficiaries. 
  • Keep accurate records. 
  • Not commingle property. 
  • Be loyal and fair to beneficiaries. 
  • File tax returns. 
  • Defend trust against attack. 
  • Reimburse fees and expenses. 
  • Terminate trust and wind up trust affairs. 
  • Seek professional advise when necessary.