Justin, My mother created a trust the year before she died. While working to wrap up her affairs, I ran across some stock. When I called the company to have the stock changed to the kids’ names, the company wrote back saying I needed to send them “Letters of Administration.” Can you help with that? – Cynthia
Cynthia, Yes, my firm can help you obtain Letters of Administration, but first I want to give you some explanation on what that really means. Because of the way the company worded its request, you might not realize that they are forcing you into probate court. The document referred to as Letters of Administration is issued by the court clerk when you file to be the court-appointed representative of an estate.
Because your mother had a trust, you probably expected to wrap things up without the necessity of probate court. That’s the primary reason most people use trusts. But if the trust is not used properly, certain assets may still wind up in court. For instance, to keep stock out of probate, you would need to retitle it into the name of the trust while living. It doesn’t sound like your mother’s stock was retitled, so the company will not follow the terms of the trust and distribute to the children without a court order. The same can happen when real estate is not properly deeded into the name of a trust.
There are several take-aways here. First, we can help you deal with this company, but realize that means we’ll be guiding your mother’s estate through probate court. Second, if you have your own trust but aren’t certain you’re using it correctly, let us take a look. Third, if you don’t have a trust of your own, we’d love to help you set things up right the first time so your family doesn’t run into problems like this.
Call today for a no-charge strategy session. Want to learn more? Pick up a copy of my book, You Need A Plan, at YourPlanMatters.com to read about other common estate planning mistakes and how to avoid them.