Estate & Trust Administration
The attorneys of Rack & Moccia provide experienced legal counsel to our clients serving in many fiduciary roles, including those of executor, administrator and trustee. Along with our experienced paralegals, we provide experienced guidance on the legal and tax issues presented, as well as fiduciary accounting services, so that our clients may meet their obligations to the estate or trust which has been entrusted to them. We also serve in those same fiduciary roles when appointed by clients, beneficiaries, resigning trustees or the courts.
Probate Estate Administration
Our attorneys and paralegals are involved every day with assistance to clients in the administration of probate estates, as well as certain other non-probate assets. We advise executors and administrators regarding the performance of their basic fiduciary responsibilities, as well as the more complex matters, including spousal share claims, real property sales, and challenges to the validity of the will. Our paralegals serve in supporting roles to assist clients serving in these roles with the preparation and filing of fiduciary accountings, maintenance of records acquired in the administration of the estate, and handling responsibilities to the beneficiaries of the estate.
There are many types of trusts for achieving particular goals. Some trusts have basic purposes, such as education for grandchildren, while others are designed for more complex purposes, including estate and gift tax planning and preservation of the family legacy. Trustees who have been appointed to administer those trusts seek our legal counsel to advise them regarding their fiduciary powers and duties, to interpret trust provisions, and to guide them in the protection of the trust estate for the current and future beneficiaries. In addition, our paralegals serve in significant supporting roles to assist trustee clients with the preparation of fiduciary accountings, the acquisition and compilation of trust administration records, the making of timely distributions to beneficiaries, and the coordination with financial representatives to ensure efficiency in transactions involving the investments in trust.
Fiduciary Accountings and Tax Compliance
In addition to the customary legal assistance rendered to our fiduciary clients, we also provide experienced counsel regarding fiduciary tax compliance matters as a seamless component of our practice. Thus, the preparation of fiduciary accountings provides the general background and specific data for each asset in an estate or trust, enabling us to provide efficient, comprehensive services, including the preparation of fiduciary income tax returns, if so requested by the fiduciary client. Given the number and significance of fiduciary tax issues which tend to arise in the administration of estates and trusts, clients often comment on the peace of mind that comes with this comprehensive approach to fiduciary compliance.
Representation of Fiduciaries
The attorneys of Rack & Moccia, P.C. provide legal and tax counsel every day to our clients serving as executors, trustees, conservators, guardians, and attorneys-in-fact. These fiduciaries consult with our attorneys for advice regarding their powers and responsibilities, for guidance through the intricacies inherent in their administrative tasks, and for prevention of liability by ensuring full compliance with their statutory duties and obligations under the pertinent statutes, the governing court order or the estate planning document in question. In the settlement of estates and administration of trusts, our well-trained paralegals play significant support roles to clients in meeting their fiduciary obligations.
Attorneys as Executor and Trustee
In the course of planning and drafting wills and trusts for clients, we are often asked to accept a nomination to be appointed as executor and trustee where they prefer to have independent fiduciary management of their estate and trust assets. This fiduciary role requires the performance of a number of services, such as collecting, securing and insuring estate and trust assets, preparing the requisite fiduciary inventories and accountings, paying debts and expenses for the decedent and the entity, and distributing assets to them as directed in the governing instrument and in accordance with federal and state laws. We also implement a program of prudent financial planning for the entity with respect to investments, taxes, and distributions to the beneficiaries. Our attorneys also prepare fiduciary income tax returns and estate tax returns, where necessary.
Life Insurance Trust Administration
The role of the trustee of an irrevocable life insurance trust is an unusually challenging one, as the trust is designed to own and manage one type of asset: a policy of insurance on the life of the grantor. Thus, the trustee must comply with the typical duties in the administration of an irrevocable trust, but must also monitor the status of the policy, ensure timely payment of premiums, and communicate with the insured grantor and the beneficiaries regarding their respective roles and rights under the trust. Upon the death of the grantor, the trustee will collect and administer the policy proceeds as directed in the trust instrument until final distribution. Due to these fiduciary requirements, as well as the substantial liability for losses, clients choose to name one of our attorneys to serve as trustee for their irrevocable life insurance trust, rather than a family member.