Administering a will or trust can generally takes about six months to a year. It often requires a lot of work at the beginning, limited work in the middle and then much activity at the end. The basic steps to administer an estate or trust:
- A fiduciary first needs to secure the necessary paperwork to establish the authority to act on behalf of the estate or trust. For an estate, it will require Letters of Authority from the probate court. For a trust, it will require executing an acceptance of trust. Both require a tax ID number from the IRS.
- Notice to Interested Persons. A fiduciary must send notice to those persons interested in the trust or estate; typically this includes the next of kin and the named beneficiaries.
- Notice to Creditors. A notice to creditors must be published stating that the creditors have four months to make a claim.
- The fiduciary must prepare an inventory of all the assets and their value and send it to the beneficiaries and for an estate, also to the court.
- Pay bills. The bills for a solvent estate or trust must be paid during the administration.
- Tax returns. The fiduciary is responsible for the decedent’s final individual tax returns and for the estate or trust tax returns.
- Distribution and Accounting. When the estate or trust is ready to be finalized, an accounting must be prepared and the remaining assets distributed.
The administration of a will or trust can be a daunting task that should not be taken lightly. If you have been appointed as a fiduciary, be sure to see an experienced elder law attorney to make sure you fulfill all your responsibilities.