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Our attorneys are extremely knowledgeable in the area of estate administration and can provide you with a broad range legal support and assistance. Legal services for estate administration includes probate administration, trust administration, fiduciary and trustee services, tax preparation and planning, and advising trust beneficiaries and heirs of an estate. Our law firm provides estate administration services to clients in the Ann Arbor, Dexter, Saline, Brighton, Ypsilanti, and the greater Detroit Metro and Ann Arbor communities.
Navigating through the probate court and legal process can be challenging and confusing. Our attorneys can assist clients with filing the correct paperwork with the probate court as well as selecting the best format (informal, formal, supervised, unsupervised, small estate, and summary proceedings). Selecting the best format and approach to a probate court filing can mean the difference in saving thousands of dollars as well as defeating creditor claims. Our services include the following:
Probate Filings and Court Appearances – There are over 100 various forms available to choose from in a probate proceeding. Our attorneys know which forms and filings are required or should be filed as a matter of best practice, and what notices need to be provided to heirs and creditors in order to comply with Michigan law and court rules. In the event an appearance in court is required, our attorneys can appear on your behalf to resolve the issue.
Accountings – With the use of our proprietary software we make sure the required accountings comply with Michigan law and provide the necessary information to estate heirs. These accountings are useful for decedent estates and conservatorships.
Tax Preparation – We assist clients with the preparation and filing of the decedent’s final income tax return (Form 1040) as well as the income tax return for the probate estate (Form 1041). Read more about our tax preparation services and advice in the right hand column.
Depending on the issues involved, trust administration can be a straight forward process or require detailed attention and specialized legal services. Our attorneys can assist clients with a broad range of matters: from simple trusts with modest assets to complex trusts holding millions of dollars and diverse assets.
Trust Reports (Accountings) – With the use of our proprietary software we make sure the required trust reports comply with the trust’s provisions and Michigan law by providing the necessary information to trust beneficiaries. If done properly a well-crafted trust report can limit the trustee’s liability and shorten the statute of limitations for beneficiaries to bring legal claims.
Tax Preparation – We assist clients with the preparation and filing of the decedent’s final income tax return (Form 1040) as well as the income tax return for the trust (Form 1041). More about tax preparation below.
Trust beneficiaries and heirs of decedent estates are often unaware of their rights under a trust administration or probate estate, or how to understand the various issues that come up during an estate administration and determine whether an action taken by a trustee or personal representative is something that adversely affects them or not. More often than not beneficiaries and heirs are completely unaware of the fact that an attorney helping to administer an estate represents the fiduciary and not the beneficiaries and heirs. Our attorneys provide guidance in understanding the various aspects of an estate administration including how to protect ones interests and tax planning unique to inheritances.
With the death of a loved one there can be a number of tax issues to contend with. Our tax attorneys can assist with all of the following matters:
Final Income Tax Return (Form 1040) – The personal representative or successor trustee is responsible for filing the decedent’s final income tax return. Our attorneys can prepare the final income tax return and maximize any available deductions and credits.
Fiduciary Income Tax Return (Form 1041) – Just as an individual must file an income tax return during life, an estate or trust must also file an income tax return when there is taxable income. When coordinated with the overall estate administration an estate or trust can take advantage of certain deductions which also benefit the estate heirs or trust beneficiaries.
Estate Tax Return (Form 706) – Although the majority of decedent’s estates do not have to file an estate tax return, there are cases in which a trust or estate must file or a surviving spouse will want to file a Form 706 in order to elect portability. Our tax attorneys can prepare a thorough and complete estate tax return that complies with IRS code and regulations.
Tax Planning and Tax Mitigation Strategies – We assist our clients with planning the most advantageous strategy to address federal and state tax issues specific to decedent estates and trusts. With proper planning in some cases we can minimize taxes and therefore maximize distributions to trust beneficiaries and heirs. This is especially the case when dealing with decedent’s qualified retirement accounts (IRA’s and 401k’s), U.S. Savings Bonds, and real estate. Don’t miss a deduction or an opportunity to minimize taxes by ignoring this important aspect to estate administration.
Disclaimer: Any tax advice contained in this communication was not intended or written by us to be used, and may not be used by you or anyone else, for the purpose of avoiding penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code, or promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any tax-related matter addressed in this communication.
Most often family or friends are asked to be successor trustees but in some cases it makes sense to name an outside party as successor trustee. This is most common in those situations where there is a second marriage with children from a first marriage, children or beneficiaries that do not get along, or when a dispute or litigation is possible upon the death of the individual. In other cases a professional trustee is desired simply to avoid burdening family members with an administration, when there is not someone suitable who can act, or when a professional trustee can provide knowledgeable and efficient services to the beneficiaries. Last, with the enactment of the Qualified Dispositions in Trusts Act in 2017, domestic asset protection trusts (DAPT’s) are now recognized under Michigan law but require a Michigan based trustee. Our attorneys can provide professional trustee services and are available for consultation. If you are interested in these services please contact our office to speak with an attorney.