Fiduciary, Executor, & Trustee Services

Fiduciary, Executor, & Trustee Service Attorneys in Virginia 

Do you need help selecting a fiduciary? A fiduciary is someone who acts on your behalf and is obligated to put your interests ahead of their own. In the context of estate and trust planning, a fiduciary is a person responsible for managing your estate or trust — usually a trustee or executor

J.S. Burton can help you evaluate whether a family member, professional, or corporate fiduciary may best facilitate your estate during your lifetime and after you’ve passed away. We also provide legal counsel to executors and trustees regarding estate and trust administration

Schedule an appointment with our Virginia fiduciary attorneys by calling (888) 885-9001 or use our contact form to send us your questions. 

Fiduciary Counsel in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, McLean, & Surrounding Areas

A trustee is an individual with fiduciary responsibilities for a trust. An executor is responsible for overseeing and facilitating an estate plan. In Virginia’s legal statutes, an executor of an estate is sometimes referred to as a person’s “personal representative.” Often, these individuals are personally selected and named in a will or trust, but they can also be appointed by a court. 

In general, a fiduciary’s responsibilities may include: 

  • Administering trusts and/or the estate
  • Allocating and distributing assets 
  • Ensuring relevant tax returns are filed
  • Interpreting the will and/or trust
  • Making investment decisions 
  • Maintaining records of estate and trust transactions

Most importantly, fiduciaries must act in accordance with the stipulations outlined in the estate plan. 

Fiduciary Responsibilities of Trustees & Successor Trustees

As a fiduciary, a trustee is granted legal ownership and control over any assets placed in the trust so they can execute all the provisions within it. Depending on these provisions, they may take further action, such as securing greater liquidity, selling risky investments, or maintaining or procuring insurance, so long as it serves the interest of the client and beneficiaries. Trustees are expected to account for the dynamics between relevant parties, and they should maintain objectivity and impartiality when administering the trust. 

Trustees may be responsible for any of the following items:

  • Carrying out the financial obligations of the trust (keeping up with payments, filing taxes, etc.)
  • Managing and transferring assets 
  • Maintaining leases, contracts, real estate, and/or business interests 
  • Maintaining insurance
  • Reviewing and managing investments

Virginia distinguishes between “trustees” and “successor trustees.” In most cases, you’ll name yourself the trustee to retain ownership of your property during your lifetime. The successor trustee is the individual responsible for taking over the property following your death.

Fiduciary Duties of Executors

Executors represent an estate and administer it according to the provisions outlined in a last will and testament. They are held to strict legal standards and must be approved by a judge to carry out their duties and represent the estate in court. 

The fiduciary responsibilities of an executor may include: 

  • Keeping record of estate transactions 
  • Keeping an inventory of estate assets
  • Litigating and overseeing probate
  • Managing estate accounts and investments
  • Preparing taxes
  • Representing the estate in probate
  • Transferring assets

Selecting an Executor or Trustee

Selecting a fiduciary is an important decision with long-term consequences. At J.S. Burton, our fiduciary, executor, and trustee service attorneys in Virginia will meet with you to discuss your situation, financial interests, and personal priorities, and we’ll help you select appropriate fiduciaries for your will, estate, and trusts.

Contact us today by calling (888) 885-9001 or message us to discuss your options. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, and McLean.

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    • Do I have to transfer all my assets to my Living Trust?
      Assets with beneficiary designations such as a life insurance policy or annuity payable directly to a named beneficiary need not be transferred to your Living Trust.  Furthermore, money from IRAs, Keoghs, 401(k) accounts and most other retirement accounts transfer automatically, outside probate, to the persons named as beneficiaries. Bank accounts that are set up as payable-on-death account (POD for short) or an "in trust for" account (a "Totten Trust") with a named beneficiary also pass to that beneficiary without having to be titled into your trust. It is important, however, to seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney who can advise on and assist with transferring necessary assets to your trust.
    • Will I lose any control over my property if I create a Revocable Living Trust?

      Creating a Revocable Living Trust and transferring your assets to the name of that trust will generally not affect your ability to control such assets. During your lifetime when you are mentally competent, you have complete control over all of your assets.  As the trustee of your trust, you may engage in any transaction that you could before you had a Living Trust. There are no changes in your income taxes. If you filed a 1040 before you had a trust, you can continue to file a 1040 when you have a Living Trust. There are no new Tax Identification Numbers to obtain. Because a Living Trust is revocable, it can be modified at any time or it can be completely revoked if you so desire. Upon your incapacity, the individuals you designate will be able to transact on your behalf according to the instructions you have laid out in the Living Trust. Upon your passing, the Living Trust becomes irrevocable and the successor trustee(s) you have designated will then proceed to implement your wishes as directed.

    • What are the advantages of having a Living Trust?
      Like a will, a Living Trust is a legal document that provides for the management and distribution of your assets after you pass away. However, a Living Trust has certain advantages when compared to a will. A Living Trust allows for the immediate transfer of assets after death without court interference.  It also allows for the management of your affairs in case of incapacity, without the need for a guardianship or conservatorship process. With a properly funded Living Trust, there is no need to undergo a potentially expensive and time consuming public probate process.  In short, a well thought out estate plan using a Living Trust can provide your loved ones with the ability to administer your estate privately, with more flexibility and in an efficient and low-cost manner.
    • What is a Revocable Living Trust?
      A properly drafted Revocable living trust (RLT) is a powerful estate planning tool that allows you to remain in control of your assets during your lifetime, have them managed during incapacity, and efficiently and privately transfer them to your loved ones at death according to your wishes.

      Sometimes referred to simply as a Living Trust, an RLT holds legal title to your assets and provides a mechanism to manage them. You would serve as the trustee and beneficiary of your trust during your lifetime. You also designate successor trustee(s) to carry out your instructions for how you want your assets managed and distributed in case of death or incapacity.

      In order for the Living Trust to function properly, you need to transfer many of your assets to your Living Trust during your lifetime. The fact that it is "revocable" means that you can make changes to it or even terminate it at any time.