A trust, like a will, says how a person's estate should be distributed after death. Generally, if the decedent transferred assets into the trust during his or her life or designated the trust as the beneficiary of assets, trust administration is quicker, more efficient, and allows for the administration to be done privately. However, many trusts have special provisions that must be carefully followed. 


Probate is often not required when the decedent set up a trust. Most assets should be titled in the trust or have the trust named as the primary beneficiary. Any assets that are not titled in the trust or do not have the trust named as the primary beneficiary may be considered probate assets. If the assets cannot be collected using an Affidavit of Collection of Personal Property (when probate assets are less than $75,000 and no real estate is involved), probate will be required. In this case, the decedent likely has a "pour over" will to direct any probate assets to the trust. 


Even though probate may not be required for a trust estate, the trustee should assess whether an estate tax return will be due, particularly because estate tax planning is often a factor in establishing a trust. For Minnesota residents, estates of decedents dying in 2017 of more than $2.1 million must file. For estate tax purposes, an estate generally includes all trust assets, life insurance death benefits, real estate, and retirement accounts a person had an interest in at death. Estate tax returns are due 9 months after death. 

An estate tax return should always be prepared and filed with the assistance of experienced and qualified legal counsel. Our attorneys do estate tax planning and work with personal representatives and heirs on probate, estate, and trust administration every day. We understand estate law, we understand you.  

To start the process, schedule an appointment with one of our trust administration professionals today or use the form below to connect with an attorney today. 

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