Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Heirs generally don't need their own legal counsel

A beneficiary generally does not need an attorney during trust or estate administration proceedings. Typically, the representative of a Connecticut estate will represent a person who stands to collect money or assets from a deceased individual. The trustee will represent the beneficiary of a trust, and both the executor and trustee have a fiduciary duty to an heir. However, an heir may want to hire an attorney for the peace of mind that legal counsel may provide.

Even if an individual does hire an attorney, it generally won't cause tension between a beneficiary and the estate's representative. In many cases, an executor or trustee simply wants to make sure that an estate is settled or that a trust's instructions are carried out correctly. In some instances, the executor or trustee may get an attorney to help accomplish that goal in a timely manner.

Ideally, plan documents will be as detailed and specific as possible to ensure that it is easier to carry out a person's final wishes. The use of a trust may protect assets from creditor claims, which may eliminate one potential hurdle as it relates to distributing assets. When properly crafted, a trust may minimize the chances that a family dispute will occur. This is because it is typically harder to challenge a trust as opposed to a will.

Furthermore, the details of a trust are not available to the public. A will can be used to tell family members where important documents, passwords or other information is kept. The sooner that assets are inventoried, the sooner that taxes can be paid and the estate can be settled. An attorney may explain that beneficiary designations could be ideal for those who want assets such as an IRA to be transferred quickly and privately.

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