Trust Administration stands as a crucial yet misunderstood process. To shed light on this topic, we had the opportunity to interview Kim Millman, an esteemed estate planning attorney renowned for her expertise in trust administration, charitable planning, and business succession planning. In this enlightening conversation, Kim delved deep into the intricacies of trust administration, sharing her insights and experiences gained from years of practice.
Key Points from the Conversation:
1. What is Trust Administration?
Trust Administration is a critical process that follows the creation of a trust document. Contrary to popular belief, trusts are not magical entities that automatically distribute assets. They are legal documents that guide the successor trustee in executing the deceased’s wishes. When someone passes away, the successor trustee is responsible for implementing the trust’s instructions, such as splitting assets between various trusts and filing necessary tax returns.
2. Misconceptions and Challenges
One of the significant misconceptions Kim highlighted is the belief that creating a trust eliminates the need for further action. However, trust administration involves a series of tasks, including valuing assets, filing tax returns, and ensuring the proper distribution of assets. Timelines are crucial, and missing deadlines can lead to conflicts, especially in families where beneficiaries may not get along.
3. Importance of Communication and Preparation
Kim emphasized the importance of clear communication between the estate planner, successor trustee, and beneficiaries. Educating clients about the trust administration process and encouraging them not to keep trust documents in inaccessible locations (like safe deposit boxes) is vital. Additionally, simplifying and consolidating assets can ease the administration process for both trustees and beneficiaries.
4. Choosing the Right Successor Trustee
Selecting a suitable successor trustee is paramount. While family members or friends might seem like obvious choices, being a trustee is a complex, high-liability role. Often, professional fiduciaries or institutional trustees are better equipped to handle the responsibilities effectively. The choice depends on the individual’s assets, relationships, and the trustee’s financial acumen.
5. Charitable Planning
Charitable planning serves both philanthropic and tax-saving purposes. Clients can include charitable components within their estate plans through specific gifts, residual distributions, or charitable trusts. Kim discussed the various methods, emphasizing that the approach should align with the client’s philanthropic goals and the overall estate plan.
6. Kim Millman: A Journey into Law
Kim shared her inspiring journey into the legal field, which began after her family’s successful venture in the fashion industry. Her transition from the corporate world to law school was motivated by a desire to help families navigate the complexities of estate planning. Kim’s entrepreneurial background uniquely positions her to understand the challenges faced by business owners, making her a compassionate and knowledgeable advocate for her clients.
In unraveling the intricacies of trust administration, Kim Millman provided invaluable insights. Trust administration is not merely a legal obligation; it’s a meticulous process that requires clear communication, strategic planning, and a deep understanding of the client’s goals. Through her expertise, Kim ensures that families receive the guidance they need, honoring the wishes of the deceased while minimizing potential conflicts. In a world where trust administration can be daunting, having an experienced and empathetic attorney like Kim Millman proves to be invaluable, transforming a seemingly complicated process into a manageable and meaningful journey for families.
“Do not lock-up the Trust documents. Don’t put them in a safe deposit box. Don’t put them in a home safe because if someone dies and nobody knows where the documents are, they’re as good as not existing.”
📇Connecting with Kim:
DISCLAIMER: The Probate Realtor® Matias Baker Masucci is a licensed real estate broker in California DRE # 02054763. Any legal information provided is for informational purposes only and NOT for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal issue or problem. We make no guarantees as to the accuracy of any information.