Most people leave wills that provide instructions as to what is to be done with their assets when they pass on. Those wills also name a person as an executor of an estate. That executor is responsible for carrying out the terms of the wills, trusts, or other testamentary documents. This process is called estate administration.

This guide is intended to provide some basic information about the responsibilities of trust administrators. An attorney familiar with estate administration in Naperville may also be able to help to guide you down the correct path or even to serve as the administrator of your own estate after you pass away.

The Powers and Duties of Trustees

A trustee is any person nominated in a will or assigned by a court to carry out the terms of a deceased person’s will or trust. In many ways, these people have broad powers to achieve those goals. According to 760 ILCS 5/4, these powers include the ability to:

  • Sell the assets of the estate
  • Borrow money to maintain the estate
  • Open bank accounts or safe deposit boxes to safeguard estate assets
  • Act as an individual owner to purchase or sell stocks, bonds, or other financial instruments
  • Prosecute or abandon legal claims on behalf of the estate

Clearly, named trustees of an estate have wide-ranging powers. However, there is also an obligation on the part of trustees to protect the estate. 760 ILCS 5/5 outlines the strict responsibilities of trustees under state law. These include the obligation to manage assets as a prudent investor would, and to not delegate one’s duties as a trustee. In short, trustees act to preserve the interests of the estate, not to further their own agenda. Estate administration in Naperville is, therefore, a legal obligation that carries significant consequences.

Working to Promote Proper Estate Administration

The legal requirements for trustees are complex and confusing. Especially for family members who have recently learned that they are expected to fulfill this role with no prior notice; this could be an additional burden on your life. However, by following a few simple steps, people could make sure that they fulfill their duties as estate administrators and avoid any legal trouble.

The first step is to read and understand any terms that exist in the will, trust, or other testamentary documents. Assuming that the court has accepted this document, it is vital to understand one’s obligations.

A second step is to establish the necessary bank accounts for the estate. These must be separate from personal accounts, each with their own Tax ID numbers. Any money that flows through the estate must pass through these bank accounts. This is vital for both assuring the court that administrators have acted in good faith and to pay taxes when the time comes.

Finally, people should memorialize every step that they take. From opening bank accounts, to distributing personal property, to selling real estate or stock, they need to keep a notebook or computer records of every transaction. Following these three general steps could help estate administrators remain organized and on the right side of the law.

An Attorney Could Provide Guidance for Estate Administration in Naperville

The need for proper estate administration is vital to the future of those estates. A decedent is unable to dictate what is to be done for the future of their family, and they may have nominated you to make sure that their wishes come to fruition.

Serving as an estate trustee is not just a moral obligation to the decedent, it is also an obligation under the law. The statutes that control trust administration give you broad powers, but they also create a legal requirement to serve the best interests of the estate. This confuses and frustrates many people.

A Naperville estate administration attorney may be able to help. Attorneys could work with you to provide guidance as to your responsibilities as an estate administrator. Additionally, if you are looking for a firm’s help to administer your estate personally, attorneys could serve this role when the time comes. Contact a Naperville estate administration lawyer today to learn more.