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Attorney Randy Ratliff

Trust Administration

Estate Planning Attorney Serving Residents of Nashville

VegetationA trust is simply a contract. It is a written document that creates a fiduciary arrangement where a third party holds and controls certain assets on behalf of the trust’s beneficiaries. That third party is a trustee. A lot of people are confused by the idea of a trust, but it’s pretty simple. For example: If you have an IRA or a 401(K) or other type of retirement plan, it’s likely that your retirement money is held by a trustee for your benefit. You gave the money to the trustee when you contributed to the plan and the trusee will pay you the money back when you retire. Hopefully, with a good return. There are many reasons to consider other types of trusts as part of your estate plan, business succession plan, or asset protection plan. Knowledgeable estate planning attorney Randy Ratliff regularly assists clients with these sensitive matters. As a Nashville trust administration lawyer, he can advise trustees concerning the redistribution of a trust’s assets after the death of the grantor. He also can assist with establishing post-death trusts in accordance with the wishes of the trustor, who is the individual who established and funded the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

Understanding the Process of Trust Administration

There are many advantages to establishing a trust as part of one’s estate plan. First and perhaps foremost, a trust allows the assets placed therein to pass outside the probate process. This may save a considerable amount of time and money, and it may prevent the litigation of private family matters in a public forum. In some situations, trusts may also help reduce some of an estate’s tax burden and protect the estate from certain creditors. Since assets are administered by a trustee, a trust may also help discourage waste by beneficiaries who may lack the requisite financial skills to handle the assets of the trust responsibly on their own. The trustee, in turn, owes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries and may be held legally accountable if they do not live up to this duty.

Types of Trusts That May Be Available as Estate Planning Tools

Trusts come in many different forms. A testamentary trust, for example, transfers wealth only after a trustor’s death. Testamentary trusts are typically contained within a separate document, usually a Last Will and Testament. Testamentary trusts are not automatically created, and the assets to be placed in such a trust pass through probate. Testamentary trusts are useful when the trustor wishes to have someone else control certain assets until a beneficiary reaches a certain age. By contrast, a living trust (also known as an “inter vivos” trust) begins during the lifetime of the person establishing the trust. Living trusts may be revocable or irrevocable. As the name suggests, the terms of a revocable living trust may be changed during the trustor’s lifetime; such a trust may even be completely revoked if the trustor desires. The terms of an irrevocable trust are permanent; the trustor relinquishes the right to make further changes with regard to the passing of assets contained in the trust. A trust administration attorney in Nashville can advise you on which of these instruments may be appropriate for your needs.

While some trustors prefer to name a professional (such as an attorney, accountant, or financial adviser) as the trustee, the trustor of a living trust may name themselves as the trustee during their lifetime, assuming that they have the time and expertise necessary to administer the trust. A successor trustee must be named after the trustor’s death when this happens. After the trustor passes away, it is the trustee or successor trustee’s job to distribute the assets of the trust according to the terms established by the trustor. In some situations, this may include setting up and administering post-death trusts.

Contact a Reliable Trust Administration Lawyer in the Nashville Area

While most of us prefer not to think about what might happen to our hard-earned assets should we become disabled or pass away, it is not overly difficult or expensive to do the advanced planning necessary to ensure the financial security of one’s family and the continuation of a business should something happen. To talk to a skillful Nashville trust administration attorney about your situation, contact the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, at 615-656-8282 or online and set up a convenient appointment. Our offices are located in Brentwood. We also serve people who need a probate lawyer throughout Davidson and Williamson Counties, including in Antioch, Hermitage, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, and Cool Springs.