Handling your responsibilities as a trustee

If you have been named a trustee, you may be facing numerous hurdles. On the one hand, you may be struggling with unbearable emotional pain due to the loss of a loved one. However, you may also be unsure of your responsibilities or how to handle some trust-related issues. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we know how challenging this can be for trustees and entire families in Jamaica, and all across the state of New York. By recognizing and carefully managing your responsibilities, you may avoid certain complications.

As a trustee, you will have numerous fiduciary duties. You should be aware of these duties and make sure you handle them correctly. For example, you may be responsible for distributing assets among beneficiaries, valuing the trust’s assets and taking care of tax-related matters. Sometimes, these responsibilities can be difficult, such as instances where families disagree on the way that a trust’s assets are split up. However, it is crucial to uphold the wishes of the trustor and try to take steps to prevent or minimize any conflict.

If you are accused of breaching your fiduciary duties, such as going against the trustor’s wishes by failing to distribute assets appropriately, you may face numerous consequences, such as courtroom stress and financial penalties. As a result, it is critical to make sure you take care of your responsibilities properly and avoid a breach of your fiduciary duties.

On our trust administration page, you can browse over more material concerning fiduciary duties and other topics related to trusts.

Your will matters: What happens if you die without a will?

Your will is the one document that can explain everything you want to see happen with your estate after you pass away. Anyone can die at any time, and that’s why so many people insist that it’s important to have a will early in life. When you don’t have a will, it’s harder to know what will happen to your assets and who will end up benefiting from them.

In cases where a father or mother married to one another passes away, there’s little contest as to who should receive the assets of the family home. In these cases, the surviving spouse often receives the entire estate, except for in the case that a child or children are from previous marriages or relationships. In those cases, the surviving spouse gets up to half the estate, and the rest is doled out to the children.

When you die without a will , your state laws dictate what happens to your estate. Do you want to see your family struggle to obtain the things that you purchased or collected over the years? If not, then a will is the answer for you.

States do recognize spouses, blood relatives and registered domestic partners, but there can be trouble in other situations. For instance, if you’ve lived with your partner for five years but never married or registered as domestic partners, your partner, a girlfriend or boyfriend by law, would not be entitled to anything from the estate except for items in his or her name or shared in both your names. Unmarried partners, charities and friends get nothing by law if you pass away without a will.

There are a few exceptions to the rule. For example, if you have taken out a life-insurance policy and named beneficiaries , then the beneficiaries will receive the payout regardless of whether or not you have a will. The same normally applies to a retirement account if you’ve already named a beneficiary. If you haven’t taken the time to name a beneficiary on these accounts and pass away, the assets become part of the estate and are shared with those recognized as heirs. If you have no potential heirs, then the estate goes to the state.

Your attorney can help you draw up a will, so you know your beneficiaries will receive what you want them to. You can always alter the will, but it is necessary to have one as soon as possible.

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Managing your responsibilities as a trustee

From being named a trustee by a loved one who is drafting his or her trust to disagreements that come up during the probate process, there are a number of ways that trustees find themselves involved in an estate. After the trustor passes away, however, trustees play an especially important role. If you have been named a trustee, it is vital to be fully aware of your responsibilities. At the New York law offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, we understand the concerns and stress that trustees may have, especially for those who are not very familiar with trusts or the probate process.

As a trustee, you may have various duties, such as taking care of the trust’s assets and distributing them among beneficiaries. However, there are other responsibilities you may have, such as filing taxes and trying to work through a disagreement with beneficiaries. Regardless of the unique circumstances you find yourself in as a trustee, successfully navigating the entire process and doing your best to avoid complications is paramount.

If you are drafting a trust, you should carefully think about who you should name as the trustee. Often, a couple that has been married for many years will name the other spouse as the trustee, although this does not always hold true. Regardless of your unique circumstances, it is crucial to take a carefuly approach with trusts and probate.

On the portion of our site devoted to probate law, you can browse through more material related to trustees  and related topics.

Preparing yourself for the probate process

If you lost a beloved member of your family recently, or are worried that a loved one will soon pass away, you may be emotionally distraught. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, you may find yourself anticipating the probate process, which can make things even more difficult if you have no idea of what could lie ahead. At the New York law offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, we can understand the challenges that people who are dealing with this may often encounter. However, you may be able to relieve some of your worries and work towards a more favorable outcome if you thoroughly prepare for probate.

If you are named the executor of your family member’s estate, you will have a significant responsibility and it is imperative to make sure that you handle all issues correctly. From notifying beneficiaries to filing paperwork and even filing taxes, you may have to work through a number of complicated tasks. To make things even tougher, you could find yourself involved in a bitter dispute. Not only can disputes tear entire families apart, but they can generate an incredible amount of stress and uncertainty.

By correctly handling challenges that arise and being ready for any of the hurdles you may come across in court, you may be able to minimize some of the difficulties associated with probate. On the section of our website that concentrates on probate law, you can access more material related to wills, executors and other aspects of the probate process .

Estate planning for each stage of life

Let’s face it. It’s not easy to think about estate planning when you’re young. There are so many other things to worry about (like how to pay for college, filing taxes, or even what to cook the family for dinner.) Despite the daily concerns that seem to run our lives, planning for the future can be very beneficial in ways that you may not realize until later in life.

As such, there are things that everyone can do in each stage of their lives to prepare for the future. This post will highlight a few. 

Engaged to be married – People who pledging their lives to each other should have simple wills that let others know how they want their assets distributed. For those who are getting married a second time, a prenuptial agreement may help in protecting assets.

Just married – For those who have just tied the knot, having a basic will, a power of attorney and a healthcare directive enables a new spouse to make decisions if something happens to their new husband or wife.

New parents – Among the many responsibilities that new parents have, maintaining an income in the event something terrible happens is an important one. Because of this, new parents should consider purchasing disability insurance or long term care coverage.

Divorce – Just like stars and celebrities, people fall out of love after falling in love. So when a couple divorces, changing their estate plan is an essential step to protect beneficiaries and ensure proper distribution of assets.

If you have questions about estate planning for your stage of life, an experienced attorney can advise you. 

Executors, wills and warning signs

If you have been named as an estate’s beneficiary, you may have an assortment of questions related to wills. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, our law firm knows that it can be difficult for beneficiaries to have a firm grasp of their rights, especially for those who are not very familiar with the relevant laws related to an estate. Unfortunately, in Jamaica, and in other New York cities, executors do not always act in good faith. As a result, beneficiaries should keep an eye out for any red flags that an executor is not remaining honest with regard to his or her fiduciary duties.

There are many ways that executors violate their fiduciary duties, some of which can be difficult to spot. On the one hand, it can be easy to tell if an executor fails to appear in court or has not paid the estate’s bills in a long time. However, it can be more difficult to pinpoint other problems, such as an executor making things unnecessarily complicated or retaining assets from the estate which were supposed to be distributed among beneficiaries.

Furthermore, if you are the executor of an estate, it is crucial to act faithfully and fulfill all of your duties. If beneficiaries suspect that you are not handling your responsibilities appropriately, you may find yourself involved in a dispute that is mentally and financially taxing.

On our page which is centered on will contests, you can review more topics related to the responsibilities of executors  and disagreements involving a will.

What happens to estates when U.S. citizens die overseas?

From will contests to distributing assets, you may have many questions regarding an estate. However, it is important to remember that there are unique situations that can affect a person’s estate, such as dying in another country. Whether you are making plans related to your estate or you recently lost a loved one who was traveling at the time of their death, understanding what happens to an estate when the decedent passed away in a foreign country may be very helpful. In Jamaica, New York, and everywhere in the U.S., handling these types of circumstances appropriately is incredibly important for everyone involved.

According to the U.S. Department of State, a number of things occur when U.S. citizens lose their lives in other countries. For starters, an American consular officer will call the person’s next of kin  to inform them of the death. Next, this officer will make arrangements for their estate and belongings to be distributed according to the directions of a qualified party, such as a legal representative. Furthermore, this officer will also be in charge of making arrangements related to the decedent’s remains.

If you are planning on moving to, working in or just visiting another country, you should be fully prepared for any issues that may arise, including those related to your estate. By planning ahead, you can make life easier for your loved ones and ensure that your estate is managed properly. Please remember that this writeup in no way constitutes an alternative to legal help.