Trust Administration in Georgia: A Guide to Duties and Legal Obligations


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Understanding Trust Administration 

Explore the intricacies of Trust Administration in Georgia with Perigon Legal Services. Our guide covers legal requirements, responsibilities, and essential steps for managing trusts effectively.

Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on April 16, 2024.

Trust administration is a significant aspect of managing the final affairs of a loved one who has passed away. In Georgia, this process involves the legal responsibility to manage and distribute trust assets according to the terms specified by the trust creator or grantor.

As trustees, law firms like ours are charged with the fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the trust property beneficiaries. Whether it involves a living trust, guardianship issues, or elder law, our goal is to ensure that each step of trust administration probate is undertaken with precision and in strict adherence to Georgia law.

Estate planning is critical, and an effectively administered trust is central to carrying out a deceased person’s last will and wishes. At Perigon Legal Services, we understand the complexities involved in trust administration and estate planning. Our experience in the field equips us with the skills needed to navigate the intricate requirements and procedures that trust administration demands.

What Is Trust Administration?

Trust administration is a vital aspect of estate planning that involves managing and overseeing a trust’s assets on behalf of the beneficiaries.

The Role of a Trustee

The role of a trustee is substantial, as it encompasses both financial and legal responsibilities, ensuring that the estate is managed according to the specifications set forth in the trust agreement.

Some trust administration tasks include:

  • Managing trust assets with diligence and prudence
  • Adhering to the terms laid out in trust documents
  • Preparing and filing necessary tax documents
  • Distributing assets to both current and future beneficiaries as instructed

As experienced trust administration attorneys in Atlanta, we are familiar with the intricacies that come with different types of trusts recognized in Georgia, such as marital trusts, life insurance trusts, and Totten trusts.

Importance of Legal Guidance 

We cannot overstate the importance of having professional legal guidance in this process. In our experience, skilled legal advice is pivotal to navigating the demands of trust administration successfully. We at Perigon Legal Services stand ready to provide that guidance, ensuring that the administration of your estate is conducted in a timely and effective manner.

    Legal Requirements in Georgia

    Georgia’s Trust Administration Laws

    As a premier estate planning law firm in Atlanta, we are adept at navigating the complexities presented by Georgia law in trust administration. It is imperative that both current and successor trustees understand and adhere to the specific requirements set forth by state statutes.

    In our practice, we emphasize the importance of diligently managing a trust in accordance with its terms. The trust agreement is the blueprint outlining the trustee and attorney’s duties and the trust’s provisions, which must align with state laws.

    Compliance and Reporting

    The Georgia Code – Title 53 provides the legal framework for trusts. Adhering to and understanding the nuances regarding investments, distributions, and trust modifications, as cited in the code, is essential. It is our responsibility to guide trustees through this process, ensuring each legal issue is addressed with the utmost detail.

    Legal documentation typically includes:

    • A properly assigned tax identification number for the trust.
    • Accurate records and accounts of trust transactions.
    • Timely filings of trust taxes and reports.

    Steps in Trust Administration

    Through our experience in trust administration, we at Perigon Legal Services understand the gravity of managing trust with the utmost precision and attentiveness. We begin this process with several critical steps:

    Initial Steps

    • Gathering trust documents: To honor the intent of the trust meticulously, we first collect all relevant documentation. This ensures we understand the specific terms and conditions of the trust agreement.
    • Notifying beneficiaries: Transparent communication with trust beneficiaries and related parties is initiated promptly, symbolizing our commitment to clarity and responsibility.

    Managing Trust Assets

    • Asset inventory and valuation: We meticulously record and appraise the trust’s assets. Accuracy here is paramount to meet both legal requirements and our standard of exactness.
    • Investment and management: Our firm’s profound business acumen guides the strategic investment and management of trust assets, aligning with the trust’s objectives while maintaining a caring and skillful approach.

    Distributions and Taxes

    • Understanding distribution requirements: Determining the proper timing and amount of distributions is done with a personalized touch, respecting the unique needs of each beneficiary.
    • Handling trust taxes and accounting: We rigorously manage the trust’s fiscal responsibilities, including calculating estate taxes, filing income tax returns, and addressing final expenses and outstanding debts, ensuring a compliant and efficient closure to the fiduciary duties.

    Common Challenges in Trust Administration

    Disputes and Litigation

    In our experience, effectively administering a trust is vital to ensuring that the wishes of the settlor are honored and the beneficiaries are properly served. However, trust administration in Georgia can be fraught with various challenges.

    As trustees shoulder significant responsibility, there is always the potential for liability if the trust is not properly managed. Disagreements among beneficiaries can escalate, potentially leading to disputes and legal action in the probate court. This may threaten the harmony of the trust administration process.

    Our approach prioritizes clear communication and mediation to ensure that the settlor’s intentions are upheld while addressing the concerns of all parties involved.

    Complex Assets and Special Situations

    Trust administration requires a thorough understanding of the tax consequences to safeguard and protect the trust assets from eroding through taxation. Our firm is well-versed in navigating these complex tax waters to guard the financial interests of the trust.

    Trust assets may sometimes be subject to creditor claims. Our strategic approach ensures that the will distributing trust assets is administered in such a manner that makes appropriate provisions for legitimate creditor concerns while protecting the trust’s integrity. 

    Our firm’s experience in the probate process and real estate law provides an indispensable resource for trustees to avoid legal pitfalls and ensure the trust is administered seamlessly.

    Perigon Legal Services: Your Partner in Trust Administration

    At Perigon Legal Services, we understand that trust administration is a critical responsibility that comes with the role of a trustee. As your partner in this process, our team of dedicated attorneys provides personalized solutions to meet the unique needs and challenges of your trust administration in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Our services encompass a range of essential trust-related needs, including:

    • Successor trustee advice and representation
    • Direction on trustee compensation
    • Assistance with guardianships
    • Legal counsel to accurately make distributions from the trust
    • Guidance regarding trust-related executive decisions

    In Need of Legal Advice and Assistance? Speak to a Trust Administration Attorney Today

    Trust Administration is complex, requiring not only detailed knowledge of the law but also a thoughtful touch. As your legal ally, we guide you through every step, whether it’s managing complex assets within the trust or ensuring Advanced Life Resource (ALR) compliance.

    Our lawyers are ready to provide a free consultation to discuss your responsibilities and challenges in trust administration. We cater every strategy to the individual circumstances, ensuring a tailored approach that aligns with your specific needs. With us, trustees receive comprehensive support, enabling them to fulfill their duties confidently and effectively, securing the settlor’s legacy, property, and beneficiaries’ future.

    Contact us today to see how our dedication and business acumen blend skillfully to support your journey as a trust administrator.

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    Atlanta, Georgia 30339