Probate Services and Litigation

Probate Services and Litigation

I. Probate Administration:

The Probate process is the procedure by which the property of a deceased person is passed to either family members or parties named in that person’s Will.

Common probate administration question:

What to do when you have lost someone and are now required to handle their affairs:

1. First, make sure you take care of yourself. Losing someone is an incredibly difficult life event. It is important that before you embark on handling that person’s affairs you take time to grieve and heal;

2. Second, figure out if there are any matters that require your immediate attention (i.e. a pet left at home, potential frozen pipes, taxes due, homeowners insurance due, a flooded basement and other matters of immanent importance);

3. Third, gather any and all financial documentation, wills, trusts and insurance policies of the deceased;

4. Fourth, obtain the decedent’s death certificate;

5. Fifth, contact a reputable and experienced Probate Administration attorney to help guide you through the court probate process;

Though the Probate process can be stressful and complicated at times, Rawlins | Asack prides itself on educating and counseling our clients throughout.  It is our goal to relieve our clients of the burdens associated with probate so that they may focus on what matters most, their loss.

II. Trust Administration:

Being the Trustee of a Trust is not to be taken lightly. Though a Trust can be a very important estate planning tool a failure to properly administer and execute same could render the document itself nearly worthless. Often, as a trustee, you are required to make important tax elections, produce and provide accountings and make prudent investments. Each of these responsibilities are typically time sensitive and critical to the Trust operating as intended. If you find yourself as a Trustee of a Trust, have set up a trust or are contemplating setting up a trust this office can help. We have years of experience administering trusts, preparing accountings, addressing beneficiary issues and working with other professionals to ensure you properly invest, make timely tax elections and operate the Trust as intended.

Common trust administration question:

What is the difference between a revocable and irrevocable trust:

This is one of the more common questions we are asked at Rawlins | Asack. As it appears within the question itself, a revocable trust is one that may be revoked by the Trustee, Settlor or Beneficiaries, depending on the type of trust it is. Whereas an irrevocable trust, again like it seems, cannot be revoked. This distinction is drafted directly into the trust instrument itself. Depending on the purpose of the trust at the time it was created, you may find that you are or will become the trustee of either type of instrument. Regardless of the type or complexity of the trust, we are able to assist you in navigating your responsibilities.

III. Probate, Trust and Fiduciary Litigation:

Everyone has heard the story about the disgruntled family member, omitted spouse, trustee who has taken money or family member who was forced or coerced into drafting a will. Though it is a last resort, these types of situations often require litigation. It is at that point in time, these matters are labeled or called Probate, Trust or Fiduciary litigation matters. Unlike traditional estate planning and probate and trust administration, probate litigation requires additional skill sets, experience and knowledge. It is at this time, you will need the assistance of a firm that not only understands the subject matter at hand but also has the experience to try your case.

At RAWLINS | ASACK, our significant Court room experience coupled with our practical understanding of estate planning, probate administration, trust administration, guardianship and conservatorship, place our firm in a unique position to truly handle all your legal needs.

No one wants to be involved with litigation. Particularly when they may also be dealing with the incapacity or loss of a loved one. It is this reality that makes these matters not just complex but also incredible emotional and stressful. It is our goal to remove the intensity associated with these matters and to provide you with straightforward, cost effective and transparent representation. Though we cannot always prevent these matters from occurring, we can certainly help you to properly address them.

Common trust litigation question:

What happens if a trustee or co-trustee of a trust I am associated with has been unlawfuly utilizing the trust money for himself/herself:

If you are a beneficiary or co-trustee of a trust in which this occurs, you will want to take some initial steps. First obtain a copy of the trust document itself. If the beneficiaries of the trust are not listed directly in the document, make sure you also gather the schedule of beneficiaries. This is a form that is usually attached to the trust and lays out who the beneficiaries of the document are. Next figure out if the Trustee has a duty within that document to account to the beneficiaries. If so, and you are a beneficiary request that the Trustee provide same. If you are a co-trustee, start doing your due diligence to discern what has gone on with the funds on the trust. Then see a competent and knowledgible Trust/Probate Litigation Attorney.

RAWLINS | ASACK handles a vast array of Probate, Trust and Fiduciary litigation matters. These include but are not limited to the following: Contesting Accounts; Will Contests; Removal of Fiduciaries; Equitable Actions; Petitions to Partition, Representation of Trustees, Personal Representatives, Guardians and Conservators, Defense of Accountings, Constructive Trusts, Life Insurance matters, Declaratory Judgments, Breaches of Fiduciary duties, fiduciary embezzlement, fraud, and more.

IV. Professional Personal Representative, Trustee, Special Master, Commissioner and Guardian Ad Litem:

There may also be times where it makes sense or is desirable to have an objective third party professional become involved with your family’s, trust, estate or legal matter. RAWLINS | ASACK has been providing these professional fiduciary services for many years. Our office has experience as professional personal representatives, trustees, special masters, guardians, conservators and guardians ad litem. Additionally, Attorney Jason M. Rawlins is a Category D Guardian Ad Litem and as such has served in these roles at the Court’s pleasure.

Common question regarding hiring or appointing a professional personal representative or trustee:

Why would I need a Professional Trustee?

As noted above, the role of trustee can be complex, stressful, time consuming and often requires timely technical decision making. With this in mind, it is very common for a potential Trustee to decline to serve in that capacity. You may also have very technical trust document that needs to be administered just right to ensure you receive all its possible benefits. When these things become a reality it may make sense for there to be a professional trustee. At the point in time in which we become your Trustee, we relieve you and/or your loved one of the burdens that are typically associated with that role.

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