Everything You Need to Know About Trust Administration

Posted by on Jul 21, 2020 in Legal News |

For a while, the idea of a “trust” or “estate” was thought of as a tool of the wealthy who had large mansions and companies. However, estates and trusts are for everyone, and trust administration is a top that can (and likely will) come up for every family, regardless of financial status. In this article, we will give you an overview of trust administration. This is not intended to replace the advice of an attorney, as every family is different and has their own specific needs. 

What is a Trust? 

A trust is a tri-party fiduciary relationship. The first person is called a “trustor.” A trustor transfers the property to the second party, who is called a “trustee.” The trustee holds the property for the benefit of party #3, who is known as the “beneficiary.” The trustee will hand over the property to the beneficiary at a date predetermined by the trustor. Usually, the beneficiary gets the property after the turn a certain age or upon the death of the trustor. 

What is Trust Administration? 

Trust administration refers to the rights and duties of the second party—the trustee. The trustee must manage the trust according to the terms and conditions of the trust document that the grantor has written. The trustee must manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary. A trustee is always encouraged to work alongside an attorney in order to make the management process easier and clearer. 

Who Can be the Trustee? 

It is possible to name the same individual to the position of trustee and the position of executor of your estate. There are some who recommend that two different people be the trustee and executor, as a way to put checks and balances in place. But, if you name the trustee and executor as the same person, it will minimize legal expenses, as the lawyer only has to communicate with one person. 

However, placing the same person in both roles requires a massive amount of trust in the individual. The individual must be responsible, as he or she is personally liable for the trust in certain situations. 

Personal Liability 

Trustees are obliged to strictly abide by the trust’s terms. If the trust prohibits or mandates something, the trustee must do everything in his or her power to stick to the terms of trust. 

A big taboo in trust administration is using trust assets for your own benefit. This and other trust-related wrongdoing will lead to a court holding the trustee accountable, whether the court mandates repayment or strips the trustee of their title. A trustee who commits wrongdoing can even be sued in a court of law for restitution and damages. 

Can You Decline an Appointment? 

Both offices have a lot of responsibility. If you are appointed to either and don’t feel that you can take on that responsibility, you are in luck, as declining is perfectly legal. If you are offered the job of executor and decline, the court will name someone else in your stead. If you decline the job of trustee, the grantor can just replace you with someone else. Trust administration can get complicated, so there is no shame in declining the position if it seems outside your wheelhouse. 

Trust administration has the potential to either be very simple or very complex (like everything in law, really). Trusts and trust administration are topics about which you should contact an attorney, as opposed to going on DIY legal sites. It’s important to ensure the trust is done correctly to avoid any unintended results. 

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Small Business Planning During the Pandemic

Posted by on Jul 14, 2020 in Legal News |

The coronavirus pandemic has hit everyone very hard, and there are few signs that it will be ending anytime soon. If you watch the news, you’ll hear about the constant economic hardships that people have endured. Small businesses have been undergoing massive amounts of strain, and applications for new businesses plummeted when the pandemic began.

…And then they stopped plummeting. America is nothing if not the land of opportunists and bootstrappers, and, as of the third week of June, there have been 87,950 new business applications. This is 33% more than last year had at this time. America is bouncing back, and people are seeing small business growth as people try to tackle the pandemic through the free market.

This article will give some tips/advice for starting a new business in volatile times. This isn’t America’s first rodeo. According to Bloomberg, small business applications spiked in 2009 after the recession, too. 

Why Start Now? 

You might have read the introduction in surprise, wondering why someone would ever want to start a business during a crisis like this. It’s hard enough starting one in perfectly calm conditions, let along during a pandemic that has thrown us into a recession.

However, a recession can actually benefit startups. The old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” is very true. Startups that take advantage of the problems that coronavirus brings—healthcare-related, deliveries, helping people stay at home, making masks, etc.—already have a built-in demand for the product. 

Economic recession also likely means that interest rates are lower, making loans more affordable. Investors can sometimes use a downturn to get more loan money for less. Additionally, there is a lot of top talent available, as people have been laid off during the recession. 

The competition is also lower, as everyone is struggling. You may be able to negotiate for lower prices and better terms on new custom, and, if you’re in a good cash position yourself, you might be able to buy up other companies or new assets that have decided to cease trading. 

While every business will not succeed, there are factors that put startups in a positive position during a recession such as this. 

Some Successful Businesses that Began During Recessions 

Need proof? Burger King, FedEx, Microsoft and General Motors all were founded during a recession, and these companies have gone on to become global powerhouses. 

Burger King was founded in the fifties after the Korean War took its toll on the American economy. It wasn’t enough to send the U.S. into a Depression, but it did create a small recession. The Burger King founders sought to capitalize off a need for affordable fast food. Thus, BK was founded. 

FedEx was founded as a college project by university student Fred Smith during the recession of 1969 (which lasted until 1971). Smith was able to turn FedEx into a $70-billion business. Microsoft was founded a few years later during a recession, when the American GDP was stagnant. Though there was high unemployment and rising inflation, Bill Gates took a chance that paid off heavily. 

Lastly, General Motors started before the Great Depression, but it used those economic conditions to give it a major boost. The GM founder bought up smaller, struggling manufacturers in the early 1900s and used it to expand the GM empire and reach. 

Best Businesses to Start

When you look at the pandemic, you will see that there is a huge need for Internet-related and delivery-related items and services. People are not able to go to restaurants, and the Internet has taken the place of shopping and schooling. Online tutoring, online sales, food and gift delivery, and similar endeavors are all example of businesses that might do well in the pandemic (but, of course, there are no guarantees in the free market).

Being in the middle of a pandemic and a recession has never stopped Americans before, and it doesn’t appear to stop them now, as the statistics indicate. Small business planning for a recession will go smoother if you hire a lawyer to help you with the necessary documents. Contact an attorney for more assistance today. 

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What is Elder Law?

Posted by on Jul 7, 2020 in Legal News |

Elder law covers all of the issues that either specifically or more frequently impact people over the age of 65 (though that age is not a hard limit—those under sixty-five can take advantage of elder law). An elder law attorney deals with a wide variety of legal issues, including long-term care planning, retirement, guardianship, healthcare, Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, and other, similar issues. Disabled people are also covered under many of the same laws as the elderly, as there is often an overlap between the two groups. 

In these uncertain times, elderly people are at their most vulnerable. According to the CDC, older adults are at the “highest risk” if they contract coronavirus. The risk for several illness due to coronavirus increases as one ages. It’s important to understand how elder law can help you during these times. 

Below, you’ll see an overview of what elder law entails. 

Elder Law vs. Estate Planning 

The purposes and goals of elder law and estate planning are different. Elder law helps an elderly person attain financial autonomy and freedom through proper financial and medical planning. This area of legal practice tries to help place the elder individual in as stable a situation as possible in the financial, medical, and legal aspects of their lives. 

To be frank, the main difference between elder law and estate planning is that the latter is for use after you die, while elder law is for the living. Estate planning deals with what will happen to your assets after you die, while elder law is concerned with the here and now. 

Should I Hire an Elder Law Attorney? 

If you or your loved one are aging and beginning to encounter issues pertaining to Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, long-term care, and other elder-specific issues, you might consider hiring an elder law attorney. Having essential legal documents in place will allow you to keep your autonomy to the greatest extent possible. A lawyer can ensure these documents are drawn up correctly and in a way that advantages you. The lawyer has your best interests at heart. Other parties might not. 

Where Does the AARP Come In? 

The AARP provides free legal counsel to many of its members, depending on where you live. For example, Washington D.C. residents have the benefit of a free hotline that helps seniors who have legal questions. These services also include fighting foreclosures, evictions, obtaining SSI, Medicaid, and VA benefits, and advocating for nursing home residents. 

The AARP might also offer programs that will help you prepare power of attorney and will documents. The AARP is a valuable resource for seniors, so check in at your local headquarters to see what kind of services they offer. 

Other Serious Issues with Which Elder Law Deals 

A very serious area that elder law practitioners deal with is elder abuse. This includes emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect/abandonment, financial exploitation, and healthcare fraud. Neglect, according to the NCOA (National Council on Aging) is the most common form of elder abuse. 

The NCOA also has found that one in ten elders are abused yearly, but only one in fourteen cases of elder abuse are reported to the police. It is impossible to talk about the important of elder law without mentioning that elder law practitioners will help you if you or your loved one is suffering abuse—or if you suspect abuse. 

This guide is by no means the be-all, end-all of elder law, but it has hopefully helped shine a light on how elder law can help you and/or your loved one. Contact an attorney for more situation-specific questions, as no one legal issue is the same.

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