Many estate planning attorneys choose to expand into the practice of trust administration to provide additional legal services to their clients and increase profits in their law firms. As an estate planning attorney, you may initially encounter trust administration when a long-time estate planning client passes away and the family turns to you, as the trusted legal advisor, for help. Or potential clients may find you online while searching for a trusts and estates attorney because they need help handling the legal issues surrounding their deceased loved ones’ final affairs.
Offering trust administration services can be highly profitable and rewarding for your law practice. Attorneys providing legal services to fiduciaries in postdeath administrations can deliver more holistic “cradle to grave” care for estate planning clients and receive an additional steady source of income. However, this area of law is not without risks—the amount of time, attention to detail, and competence required in guiding fiduciaries through the administration process can leave an attorney vulnerable to malpractice claims and unhappy clients.
Concluding the Trust Administration: What to Consider Before Making Final Distributions to Beneficiaries
In a postdeath trust administration, beneficiaries are often most concerned with the distribution of assets. Who gets what and when? Trustees, and attorneys counseling trustees, must recognize the importance of when, or more importantly, when not to distribute trust property. The trustee’s proper timing of final distributions to beneficiaries can make all the difference in whether a trust administration concludes smoothly or becomes unnecessarily complicated. Generally, distributions should not be made until all debts and taxes have been paid and any remaining expenses of administration are reasonably accounted for with a reserve.