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Wichita Estate Planning Lawyer Answers the Question: “Do I Need a Professional Administrator?”

Weber Law Dec. 11, 2015

An important part of any will, trust, or other estate planning document in which the disposition of assets is discussed is the provision designating the person or entity that will supervise the disposition process. The person may have any number of titles: executors and executrixes are usually named in wills; trustees are appointed to oversee trusts; and/or the person may be designated as an administrator. Whatever the term used to identify the person, this person plays an important role in the successful and efficient administration of the decedent’s affairs and should be designated with care.

The creator of an estate plan is able to designate any competent individual over the age of 18 years old to fill this role, and many individuals select family members or close friends to fill these shoes. In some cases, however, it may be wise to have a professional administrator – a bank or law firm, for instance – step into this important role.

The Disadvantages of a Professional Administrator

There are drawbacks with having a professional third-party administrator handle the disposition of your estate and affairs. One of the glaring drawbacks is the cost that may be involved in using a professional’s services. Many (perhaps all?) professional administrators charge a fee for their services. This may upset the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs as these fees will undoubtedly reduce the total value of the decedent’s estate. Also, retaining the services of a professional administrator exposes your financial affairs and the condition of your estate to a third party – a prospect that some may find unappealing and that leads others to create trusts as part of their estate plans.

But There are Advantages to a Professional Administrator, Too

Despite the potential drawbacks, it may make sense to designate a professional third-party to administer your estate after your death. Some signs that may indicate this is a good move for you include:

  • High-value or complex assets: If you have intangible assets or other high-dollar assets, it may make sense to have a professional who has experience in disposing of these types of assets administer your estate rather than expecting your family member to learn what he or she needs to know about properly disposing of the asset in the weeks and months after your death.

  • In-fighting amongst your family: If your family is distrustful of one another or if one family member takes offense when another family member is appointed to a position of trust or prominence within the family, appointing a professional administrator can help prevent hurt feelings and family conflicts. You may wish to discuss your decision to appoint a professional administrator with your family so all understand the reason why you have asked a third-party to step in and fill this role.

  • Maintaining secrecy: Some individuals do not wish for their family members to learn of the extent of their assets or estates, or to know what other family members receive under the terms of a trust. By creating a trust and appointing a professional administrator, it is possible for important details regarding your assets and estate planning decisions to remain secret (so long, of course, as the beneficiaries do not speak with one another about the distributions they received).

How Your Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

The Weber Law Office, your qualified Wichita Estate Planning Attorney, can discuss your estate-planning goals and concerns and help you decide if a professional administrator makes sense for your situation. If so, we can also help you evaluate and choose a professional administrator that is right for your situation. Contact us for estate-planning assistance by calling us today.