estate & trust administration
After the death of a loved one it may be necessary to administer a probate estate, trust, and file estate tax returns. Gorfinkle & Herbst advises family members and fiduciaries in these often time-sensitive legal matters:
The attorneys at Gorfinkle & Herbst are experienced in bringing legal matters through both formal probate and informal probate. We guide our clients in choosing the type of probate administration that will most effectively minimize costs and delays while vesting clear title to property in the beneficiaries of the estate.
Gorfinkle & Herbst routinely advises trustees and beneficiaries on their roles, rights and responsibilities in connection with a trust. Trustees have fiduciary obligations to beneficiaries, which can lead to personal liability if breached. For trustees, it's important to have legal counsel guiding you through the process and ensuring that the trustee meets its obligations. For beneficiaries, our attorneys can review the actions taken by a trustee to ensure they are acting in conformance with a trust and their fiduciary obligations.
With the enactment of portions of the Uniform Trust Code, Massachusetts now allows for certain modifications of trusts and resolutions of disagreements through the use of non-judicial settlement agreements. Our attorneys can review whether this out-of-court procedure is available and suitable for resolving disagreements or modifying an otherwise irrevocable trust.
ESTATE TAX RETURNS:
While the federal threshold for the estate tax is $5.43M as of 2015, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts imposes an estate tax on estates that exceed $1M. As a result, many families find that a timely filed estate tax return is necessary to clear title to property and pay any tax liability. In addition, in cases where there is a surviving spouse, a Federal Estate Tax return may be prudent to file in order to limit the chances of the surviving spouse having a taxable estate in the future.
ESTATE & TRUST INCOME TAX RETURNS:
Working with your CPA or tax preparer, we can coordinate the administration of a trust or estate with the income tax filing requirements to minimize the income tax paid by both the trust or estate, as well as by the the beneficiaries.
INTEGRATION WITH INVESTMENT STRATEGY:
Working with your investment or financial advisor, we coordinate the management of financial assets with the administration of the estate or trust. Trusts and estates are often in a higher income tax bracket than individuals, and sensitivity to this must be paid in order to not incur unnecessary taxes. In addition, the tax on net investment income impacts trusts and estates at a much lower threshold than individual taxpayers and therefore warrants planning.