A client’s sole surviving parent died with a significant estate. The client was one of two children named as successor trustees and co-executors of the various trusts and probate estate. The parent’s assets consisted of marketable securities contained in several trust accounts and in a qualified retirement plan account. In addition, the parent’s estate included real estate in two different states and private investments in the names of the client’s survivor’s trust and in their individual name. With both the client and her sibling unfamiliar with the process of estate administration, not to mention the emotional burden of dealing with the death of a loved one while working full time, the client requested our help.
Our assistance was provided in four areas. First, after gathering the relevant legal documents, we were able to help our client gain visibility of and authority over the various financial accounts and investment vehicles. From there an inventory of assets could be created, indicating the value, location and nature of each asset.
Second, we assisted in coordinating the action items among the other professionals involved, including the estate planning attorney, tax accountant, financial account custodians, appraisers and insurance agents. We recommended appraisers for real property valuations and worked with the custodians of financial accounts to provide date-of-death valuations with respect to the marketable securities portfolios. We contacted the sponsors of the private vehicles in order to get title transferred to one of the trusts in order to avoid the necessity of setting up a probate estate. Our help facilitated the work of the attorney and accountant and significantly reduced the cost of the administrative process.
Third, we evaluated the efficacy of the siblings utilizing their disclaimer options within the context of the parent’s estate plan. This assistance balanced the objectives of the client’s financial security with the tax benefits of pushing some assets to their children.
Finally, we assisted in the analysis of how the trust assets should be allocated among various subsidiary trusts and among various beneficiaries, taking into account the tax, liquidity and investment objectives of all parties.