Elegant & Effective Trust Administration in St. Joseph, MI

Administering a trust is a responsibility we handle with the utmost respect – both for the legacy of who created it and its beneficiaries. As a premier and boutique estate & trust law firm serving SW Michigan, we’re pleased to offer comprehensive and personally tailored trust services for those looking to establish a trust as part of an estate plan and trustees seeking the sophisticated and sound management of its assets.

At Legacy Counsel, our approach to trust administration is designed to ensure a seamless setup, the smooth transition of assets, and the fulfillment of all trust objectives. With a deep understanding of Michigan trust law, our attorneys and staff provide clear guidance, honest assessments, and skillful execution. All of these are aimed at avoiding probate, relieving family tensions, assuaging fears of mismanagement, and instilling the sense of peace that a correctly administered trust plan can deliver.

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What is a Trust?

A trust in Michigan is a legal tool that protects all or part of an estate. It is managed or administered by a designated trustee, and one or more individuals or entities are named as beneficiaries. In some cases, the trustee and beneficiary are the same people. Depending on its purpose and the circumstances involved, a trust usually falls into one of two categories: Revocable or Irrevocable, but there are several types, each with its advantages. 

Which Michigan Trust Suits You

  • Revocable Living Trusts: This is the most common trust type and can take effect during one’s lifetime. The grantor can also alter or revoke it, providing flexibility and privacy while avoiding probate.
  • Irrevocable Trusts: These trusts cannot be easily changed or revoked by the trustor once established and are often used for asset protection and tax benefits.
  • Testamentary Trusts: Typically created as part of a will and goes into effect after death, guiding the distribution of assets over time.
  • Special Needs Trust: Designed to benefit someone with a disability without jeopardizing their eligibility for government aid.
  • Charitable Trusts: These facilitate the creator’s philanthropic goals, providing a legacy of giving while offering tax advantages.
  • Asset Protection Trusts: Also called a spendthrift trust, it protects a beneficiary’s inheritance from creditors and potential recklessness with finances.

Other trust documents may apply to your situation or family, including Private Family Foundations, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT), Qualified Terminable Interest Trusts (QTIP), Pet Trusts, Generation Skipping Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, and more. Before establishing a trust, it’s best to consult a legal professional about your broad estate planning goals and intentions.

The Role of Trustee & Trust Attorney

Being a trustee involves handling and overseeing a trust under the terms laid out by the grantor. The trustee is responsible for protecting the assets within the trust, ensuring they are invested wisely, and distributing them to beneficiaries as specified. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the trust and its beneficiaries, maintaining impartiality, and ensuring full compliance with legal and tax obligations.

At Legacy Counsel, we believe that a knowledgeable and capable trust administration lawyer is essential in navigating the complexities of a trust, no matter the type or size of the estate. From understanding the nuances of the trust to ensuring financial stability and legal compliance, your trust should operate as smoothly as possible. That’s why when you meet with Legacy Counsel, we’ll review the trust documents, address any concerns or questions, and begin implementing our trust plan.

Our initial consultation fee for probate & trust administration matters is waived for our Legacy Membership Program participants!

What Our St. Joseph Trust Administration Lawyers Do

Our Berrien County trust attorneys provide end-to-end trust services, ensuring your trust is managed correctly. This includes timely asset distribution, ongoing trust maintenance issues, and addressing trust-related complications between siblings, family members, and other beneficiaries.

Estate Trust Plan Setup

As part of a comprehensive estate plan, we can guide individuals and families in the formation of the right trust option for their circumstances. We can establish any type of trust, including revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, testamentary trusts, and more.

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Trust Asset Management

Dutiful management of your trust requires investment savvy and adherence to strict fiduciary responsibilities. Our guidance lets trustees manage trust assets effectively and in the best interests of the beneficiaries. This includes managing trust properties, valuing assets, paying creditors, and allocating assets as trust documents dictate.

Trustee Support & Counsel

Educating trustees on their roles and providing ongoing legal support is critical to the successful operation of your trust. We empower trustees with all the knowledge and tools required for proper administration.

Beneficiary Communication

Our team understands that every trust is unique, and family dynamics often come into play. We assist trustees in keeping beneficiaries informed, address concerns, and help manage expectations.

Trust Modification & Termination

When trusts must be modified or terminated, our attorneys navigate the legal requirements to align the trust with current needs and Michigan laws.

Trust Dispute Resolution

If disputes arise, we offer steadfast legal representation and time-tested strategies to resolve conflicts and protect the trust’s integrity and intent.

Benefit from Personalized Trust Administration

At Legacy Counsel, we recognize that every trust created represents a unique life, and we take the responsibility of honoring those wishes seriously. We dedicate time to meet with each client to understand their goals and objectives. Our trust administration attorneys are here to simplify the process, answer your questions, and tailor a distinct approach to managing your trust with the respect it deserves.

Legacy’s Trust Administration Process

  • Our Initial Consult: We start with an in-depth conversation to understand your trust goals and any existing issues or complications. (Consultation fees are waived by joining our Legacy Membership Program)
  • A Detailed Trust Review: We compile and evaluate all critical trust documentation to ensure thorough and lawful administration.
  • A Custom Trust Strategy: We’ll create a fully custom approach to best handle the various components of your trust that emphasize efficiency and strict adherence to Michigan statutes.
  • Absorb & Execute Trust Duties: We dutifully handle all the details and administrative tasks related to your trust, from filing legal documents to distributing assets ensuring full compliance with the trust’s terms.
  • Adaptive Trust Services: We provide dynamic support for beneficiaries and trustees and, as circumstances evolve, make any necessary adjustments to the trust management strategy.

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Why Work with Legacy Counsel?

Our approach extends beyond trust setup and administration services. We believe in nurturing relationships and guiding trustees through the administration process with clear communication, transparent pricing, and modern conveniences like e-signature and virtual consultations. From the moment you sign your documents, we commit to being with you and your loved ones every step of the way.

Legacy Clients Benefit From

  • A Fully Custom Trust Plan
  • Clear & Upfront Pricing
  • Regular & Detailed Timelines
  • Open & Honest Communication
  • E-Signature Capability, Virtual Consults & Expedited Services.

Contact Legal Counsel today to book a consultation. We’ll answer all your questions and address your concerns.

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“The experience was great!

The step-by-step process greatly assisted us in getting our estate in order. What a relief to know that this will minimize the stress our children will not have to go through after we pass.”

Brenda R.

Michigan Trust Administration Info Center

Being a trustee is a big responsibility. Many worry about “getting it right” and making someone proud. But whether you’re trying to avoid family conflicts, ensure the trust is handled appropriately and as intended, or prevent mistakes that could put the trust in jeopardy, Legacy Counsel is here to give you the resources and tools to make informed decisions for the benefit of all involved.

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Trust Administration FAQs

What are the Benefits of a Trust?

The primary benefit of establishing a trust is that trusts usually allow estates to avoid probate. In many cases, assets held in a trust will pass directly to the beneficiary immediately upon death. Trusts may also protect certain assets from estate taxes and creditors.

Who Should Act as Trustee?

Choosing a trustee in Michigan involves careful consideration. The ideal trustee should be responsible, financially savvy, impartial, and understand the role’s legal duties. It can be a trusted family member, a friend, or a professional such as an attorney or financial advisor. The trustee must act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and manage the trust assets as per the trust document. For some of our clients, it makes sense to hire an attorney to serve as executor or trustee. Other clients simply prefer the support and peace of mind of having an attorney to help guide them through the process. 

What Rights Do Trust Beneficiaries Have?

The beneficiaries in a trust typically have the right to receive distributions as outlined in the trust document, the right to be informed about the trust and its administration, the right to an accounting of trust assets, and the right to challenge the trustee’s actions if they believe the trustee is acting improperly. Rights can also vary depending on the type of trust, its terms, and state law. Beneficiaries also have the right to seek legal advice if they believe their rights are being compromised.

Can a Trustee be Removed in Michigan?

Yes, a trustee can be removed if they fail to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries or do not comply with the terms of the trust.

How are Trust Disputes Resolved?

Trust disputes are typically resolved through mediation, arbitration, or litigation, depending on the nature of the dispute and the willingness of the parties involved to collaborate on a solution.

What Does a Trust Lawyer Cost?

Legacy Counsel adheres to predictable billing practices yet recognizes that Michigan’s legal standards typically charge hourly for probate and trust administration. We maintain this model with full transparency by offering advanced cost estimates, detailed timesheets, and a guarantee not to exceed initial estimates without client approval. Additionally, our Legacy Membership Program members benefit from a waived initial consultation fee for these services.

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