If you find yourself acting as the Trustee of a Trust created by your parents, grandparents or other relative, our office strongly recommends that you sit down to speak with an attorney before you start doing anything. Acting as Trustee without first retaining an attorney to assist you is often a recipe for disaster.
As Trustee, you have numerous fiduciary responsibilities under Missouri law and under the Trust Agreement. Missouri law requires that you provide certain notices and information to beneficiaries and even possibly heirs. In addition, the Trust’s accounts must be titled in a particular way and handled in a specific manner. If you step out of bounds in any way, you could potentially be held personally liable for those missteps. Our office can assist you in the administration and distribution of that Trust under Missouri law and while taking steps to minimize any personal liability for you while acting as Trustee. We will review and advise you on such items such as:
- Sending initial notices to beneficiaries and heirs to limit liability and comply with Missouri law.
- How property and assets should be titled.
- How property and assets should be kept separate to minimize liability.
- What bills can and cannot be paid by the Trust.
- Dealing with any potential lawsuits against the Trust.
- Dealing with any potential creditors of the Trust.
- How to collect debts owned to the Trust.
- How documents should be signed by you as Trustee.
- When and how to make distributions.
- How taxes should be handled and filed.
- How to comply with the requirements of the particular Trust you are handling.
- Conducting a legal review of the Trust you are handling and providing specific advice.
- Timing of closing out a Trust and sending the legally required notices to do so.
The expense of retaining an attorney will be nothing compared to the attorney fees in taking those assets through Probate Court were there not a Trust in existence. The attorney fees involved depend on your particular situation, the terms of the Trust, the family situation and the distribution scheme of the Trust. You may only need a few hours of an attorney’s time and some specific advice.
Our office is very upfront about our fees and the time involved with assisting you. In our first meeting, Attorney Christopher Cox will be able to lay out a road map for you regarding what to expect and the costs involved. Out office is familiar with the laws and procedures surrounding Trust administration and would be happy to assist you in navigating through this area.