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Forms 101: Mary Winners on Important Documents

Gerontologist Mary Winners outlines how to prepare critical documents that provide guidelines for the care of an aging family member. Winners uses the acronym GIFT as a simple way to trach the process. “G” is for gathering information. The “I” is for involving everyone – professionals, family members and so on. The “F” is for follow through on everything, especially all document requirements. Lastly, “T” is a reminder that family members need to tell everyone where all the documents are kept, as well as any other pertinent information.
To watch Forms 101: Mary Winners on Important Documents, click here.

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Basics of Trust Administration

To get a better grasp of the trust administration process, it is important to have at least a basic understanding of what a trust is and how it can function in the estate planning process. A trust is a legal mechanism frequently used in estate planning, not only to manage property assets during a person’s lifetime, but also to distribute assets after death. A trust can distribute estate assets to several different people or entities and also set conditions as to when and how much each beneficiary will receive.

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Trust Administration

A trust can be a valuable tool in your estate planning in the right circumstances, and is critical to carrying out your wishes when you pass away. Trusts can give you the ability to immediately transfer assets and provide for beneficiaries without the need for probate. A trust sets up a legal relationship in which property or assets of the grantor are held by the trustee for the benefit of the beneficiary.

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Working with Co-Trustees

Trustees have a large number of duties and responsibilities that carry legal and other consequences if breached. When there are two or more people acting as trustee at the same time there can be complications. Each co-trustee is bound by the duties of participation and prevention. In other words, they must divide up the work between themselves but each are still accountable for the actions of the other to redress a breach of the trust.

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Conflicts of Interest and the Duty to Use Skills

It is essential that a trustee exercise an extreme amount of caution when dealing with the trust and its assets. The personal duties of a trustee start with the most important: never, ever, under any circumstances commingle estate funds with the trustee’s personal funds. This is an essential component of the duty to avoid a conflict of interest. A trustee must be aware of and avoid any situation that creates a conflict of interest with the terms of the trust and the duties of the trustee.

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