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Law Office of Rick Todd Blog

Monday, October 10, 2016

Trust Administration Revisited

For many clients, a trust is the optimal choice for administering an estate. Some wealthy clients need trusts known as irrevocable trusts in order to avoid the estate tax or to protect assets from creditors. Others will use trusts to avoid probate. The mechanisms of trust administration are similar to the mechanisms of administering a will, but there are some notable differences that clients need to be aware of.

Probably the biggest difficulty in being a trustee is seeing that the property meant to be inside the trust has been correctly retitled. If a house or car, for example, is not correctly titled, it falls outside the trust and will probably have to go through the probate process. This defeats the purpose of trusts in regards to the administration of an estate. Any protections a trust might offer to an estate would also be lost.

Another challenge is that the trustee will also face creditors for a longer period then a personal representative would have to. The term to deal with creditors is three years from the date of death. Personal representatives only have to deal with creditors for six months (the open estate period). This can make the role of trustee markedly more complex than that of a personal representative.

Wills registered in Howard County are administered by a court in Howard County, Maryland. That court is based in the Register of Wills in the Circuit Court Building in Ellicott City. This is the policy throughout Maryland. However, trusts have no such administration. If there is an issue with a trust administration, a court case can be filed, but there is no automatic judicial oversight.

Being a trustee can be a long and frustrating process. For most people, having no judicial oversight means there is no entity able to assist them during normal business hours. The register of wills often acts not only as an arbiter for an estate, but also as a guide. While trusts are absolutely necessary for certain conditions, they should not be viewed as the default choice in the administration of an estate. 


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The Law Offices of Rick Todd is located in Columbia, MD and Chevy Chase, MD (Friendship Heights) serve clients throughout Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Laurel, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.



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