Kalamazoo Trust Administration Lawyers
Administering Revocable & Irrevocable Trusts in West Michigan
Trust administration is the process of transferring property from the grantor — the person who established the trust — to the trust’s beneficiaries. At Willis Law, we are extremely knowledgeable about this process and have decades of combined experience representing individuals in these cases. Our trust administration attorneys in Kalamazoo can provide thoughtful and effective counsel whether you are a trustee or a beneficiary.
Give us a call at (888) 461-7744 to request a free consultation today.
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts
Living trusts, often used to avoid probate and estate taxes, are considered revocable in Michigan unless the document itself establishes the trust as irrevocable.
Revocable trusts may be amended during the grantor's lifetime, but generally become irrevocable trusts when the grantor dies. An irrevocable trust may only be changed or amended by court order and is managed by a trustee.
Trustees are expected to:
- Invest trust assets in accordance with the trust's provisions and for the sole interest of the trust's beneficiaries
- Make payments to the trust's beneficiaries in accordance with provisions of the trust
- Preserve and control trust property in a reasonable manner
- Pay the trust’s income taxes
- Handle accounting and record-keeping for the trust
- Notify trust beneficiaries and heirs when the grantor dies
- Notify creditors when the grantor dies
- Notify the county assessor when there is a change of ownership of the trust if the trust contains real estate ownership
- Deal impartially with beneficiaries
- Cooperate with any co-trustees
- Refrain from using property and assets of the trust for their own benefit or profit
- Refrain from becoming the trustee of another trust with conflicting interests
Dividing Trusts When the Grantor Dies
With a revocable living trust, when the first spouse dies, two trusts will be operating: Trust A and Trust B. Trust A remains a revocable trust in the control of the surviving spouse while Trust B contains the decedent's assets to which the surviving spouse generally becomes the sole trustee. Trust B cannot be canceled or have its provisions changed, but the surviving spouse may benefit from the income generated by Trust B. If a demonstrable need exists, the surviving spouse can withdraw principal from Trust B.
When the surviving spouse dies, both trusts become irrevocable, and assets are subject to the federal estate tax if they meet the current threshold. The assets of the trust are then either maintained and payments made to beneficiaries by the trustee (if the trust is to continue after the originator's death) or distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with the provisions of each trust.
Though some people are uncertain about giving up control of trust money to a third party, hiring a professional to provide trustee services can benefit you immensely. Choosing a friend or family member to serve as your trustee can lead to contentious disputes and strained relationships. Instead, consider choosing an attorney at Willis Law.
By selecting one of our experienced attorneys to perform trustee services, you can have peace of mind knowing that an unbiased, reliable, and knowledgeable professional is looking out for your best interests. When providing trustee services, we uphold our fiduciary duty to care for your trust’s assets. When the time comes for trust administration, we can make sure all assets are administered properly to protect your family’s legacy.
Retain a Trusted Lawyer
Trustees can be held personally liable for any breach of fiduciary duty or monetary loss. Beneficiaries may find cause to sue the trustee or other beneficiaries if they suspect issues with the trust's administration or distribution. At Willis Law, we represent both trustees and beneficiaries in trust administration cases from our offices in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Paw Paw.
Schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys by calling (888) 461-7744 or contacting us online.
Michael J. Willis J.D., C.P.A.
Shaun P. Willis J.D.
Frank D. Willis J.D.
Donald H. Smith
Mariko C. Willis
Samuel R. Gilbertson J.D.
Verelle Kirkwood J.D.
Kristyn Meylenberg J.D.