In our experience, most people who are administering the estate or trust of a close friend or family member have no prior experience as an executor or trustee. More concerning, though, is that many laypeople are unaware of their duties as executor/estate trustee and of their potential liability for breaching their duties to the beneficiaries. Few seek advice until they are already facing complaints from disgruntled beneficiaries.
We encourage laypeople entrusted with administering an estate or trust to come to us for proactive advice in the early stages of the administration. When required, we provide formal legal opinions to executors and trustees. We also provide solid and practical advice to executors and trustees about how to interpret the will or trust document, when to seek the court’s advice and direction, how to fulfill their duties to the beneficiaries and how to deal with problems as they arise in the course of the estate or trust. In most cases, the cost of such advice is properly payable from the estate or trust assets.