After the death of a loved one, it may be necessary to administer a probate estate, trust, and file estate tax returns. The attorneys of the Herbst Law Group advise family members and fiduciaries in these often time-sensitive legal matters:
The attorneys at the Herbst Law Group 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.
Herbst Law Group 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:
The attorneys at Herbst Law Group routinely prepare and file Massachusetts and Federal estate tax returns. When someone passes away owning real estate in Massachusetts, an estate tax lien is automatically attached to the property and in some cases can only be released by filing an estate tax return and obtaining an estate tax lien release. While the federal threshold for the estate tax is $12.92M as of 2023, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts imposes an estate tax on estates that exceed $1M. In some cases, families may not be aware that they do not have clear title to the property because the filing of an estate tax return was necessary for the estate, but was never filed. Further, Massachusetts requires that estate tax returns be filed within nine (9) months from the Decedent’s date of death, and may impose interest and penalties for returns that have not been filed and paid timely.
Herbst Law Group is set up to electronically file Massachusetts Estate Tax Returns, which can be especially helpful if you find yourself in a situation where you are ready to sell inherited property, but need an estate tax lien release before you can do so. 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 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.