Articles Posted in TRUSTS

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As Primary Georgia Trust Litigation Lawyer in an Atlanta Trust Litigation Law Firm, beneficiaries named in a Georgia trust are entitled to understand the terms of the trust and what the trust will provide to them, both present and future. This can be critical to the lives of surviving minor children, spouses with no other source of income, or incapacitated individuals who must now rely on the trust to take care of their medical and living expenses. Trustees are in charge of managing and protecting trust assets in a transparent manner that upholds the trustee’s fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries.

One of the important fiduciary duties of Georgia trustees is to ensure that assets and property held by the trust are properly accounted for and reported to the beneficiaries. This is the foundation for trust in the trustee/beneficiary relationship. Some trust documents outline the procedures that beneficiaries must follow to request accounting information. In cases where the trust does not provide the procedure, Georgia law regulates when and how to request an accounting of trust assets. An experienced Georgia Trust litigation attorney can help beneficiaries better understand the accounting information they are entitled to and how to obtain it from the trustee.

Part of the duties of a trustee is to follow generally accepted accounting procedures (GAAP) for the recording of operating transactions. While it may be best to use an accountant to handle the accounting requirements, trustees can do this themselves. The trust’s assets and liabilities must be recorded. Assets can include real estate, stocks, bonds or any other property or asset that the trust owns. Liabilities are classified as debt and should be recorded at current values. Liabilities can include taxes owed, accounts payable or deferred tax liability. Expenses should also be recorded in a timely manner. Trust expenses can consist of the trustee’s salary, investment fees, office supplies, rent, and any applicable utilities. Moreover, an experience experienced Atlanta Trust Lawyer can help you determine if your Trustee is investing according to the Prudent Investor Rule and not putting your trust assets at risk.

Finally, the trust’s revenue must be tracked. Revenue can be generated when bank accounts held by the trust accrue interest income, stock and mutual fund portfolios earn gains, and property is sold. In the end, the timely and accurate recording of assets, liabilities, expenses, and revenue will allow the trustee to easily create documentation that shows beneficiaries the total value of the trust. Failure to provide this information to beneficiaries is a breach of fiduciary duty and can result in the removal of the trustee.
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As Atlanta, Georgia, business attorneys who also practice complex trust and estate planning and will, trust and estate litigation, we recognize there are numerous lawyers and companies who want to help you plan and protect your estate assets. These same lawyers and companies also want to help you set up your business succession planning and assist you with your estate planning. However, as business assets become increasingly intangible and more difficult to define, the estates of persons owning and having an interest in these businesses become more complex, difficult to plan, probate and administer. If these estates are not planned properly, it is quite possible these estates could end up in litigation.

As businesses, assets, and information have become increasingly digital, intangible, and available solely on-line, it is important to choose Atlanta business lawyers who understand your “intangible” business assets, how to protect them, and how to formulate effective trust and estate planning for these assets. Moreover, you not only need trust and estate attorneys, you need these same attorneys to be Georgia business attorneys well-versed in complex business matters as they relate to intellectual and technological property, copyright and trademark issues, and other potentially intangible property.

For example, any number of lawyers might be able to draft a basic will, and this may be fine for someone with fairly limited and straightforward “traditional” assets. If everyone knows you have accounts at a local bank and brokerage house and you keep your account documents on file and in physical form, it may be easy to ascertain what is in your estate.

On the other hand, consider the following:

• What if you have accounts at one of the “on-line only” banks?

• What if all your account statements are e-delivered?

• What if you have a second business selling goods on e-bay, or if you have a business or assets in a “virtual world,” such as Second Life?

• Who has your login information and passwords to these accounts?

• How will anyone determine what assets you have, or where? How will these assets be valued and by whom?

• Even if you do not have these things now, can you guarantee that you will not have them before your beneficiaries or heirs need to administer your estate?

Thus, it is increasingly important to consider not just your tangible assets, but also your digital, intellectual, technological, and other such assets, when planning your estate. This is why you must choose attorneys who understand the complexity of these assets and can advise you on how to protect yourself and your business as well as your beneficiaries and heirs.

The Libby Law Firm has been at the forefront of the union of technology as it relates to trusts, estates, business planning, and representation of individuals and businesses with non-traditional assets. Our Atlanta Attorneys also specialize in business, trust, and estate litigation as it relates to “intangible” and “non-traditional” assets.
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