Trust administration involves overseeing the assets within a trust. In cases where applicable, both the successor trustee and the co-trustee bear the responsibility of managing the trust and upholding their fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries. It is the trustee’s obligation to safeguard trust assets and adhere to the directives outlined in the trust document. The specific duties of the trustee are determined by the nature of the trust.
This involves gathering essential documents such as the Will, Living Trust document, amendments, copies of deeds, original birth certificates, and various financial account information of the deceased.
The attorney compiles information on beneficiaries, including their names, addresses, and other relevant details.
Maintaining communication with the estate tax accountant is a key responsibility, ensuring effective collaboration on financial matters.
A trust is established by a settlor (or trustor) with the purpose of managing assets in a streamlined and confidential manner for the benefit of designated individuals, known as beneficiaries. The settlor places property into the trust, and the trustee assumes the responsibility of managing it. The trustee’s role involves executing the settlor’s directives for the welfare of the beneficiaries, a task that entails several fundamental steps. We can help, by:
Gathering essential documents
Providing notice to beneficiaries
Identifying and valuing assets
Responsibly investing trust assets
Filing appropriate tax documents
Maintaining proper trust accounting
Distributing trust assets
Delegating duties as necessary
Dissolving the trust
When a Trustor dies, California mandates specific actions for the Trustee of the Trust. The nature and extent of these actions hinge on whether the Trust becomes irrevocable at the Trustor’s death or if the Trust outlines explicit steps for the Trustee. We strongly advise that, following the death of a Trustor, the Trustee promptly arrange a meeting with an attorney within the initial month. This consultation is crucial for understanding the legal obligations arising from the death and determining the necessary steps the Trustee must undertake.
The Trustee assumes the role of managing the Trust. In the case of a Living Trust drafted by our office, the Successor Trustee list is typically located in Article Three, Section 4. The Trustee is bound by a fiduciary duty to adhere to the terms of the Trust and act in the best interests of the Trust beneficiaries. Alongside these responsibilities, the Trustee carries additional duties that necessitate thorough discussion with an attorney to ensure a comprehensive understanding of their tasks and timelines. It is important to note that in Trust Administration, our office exclusively represents the Trustee and not the beneficiaries.
As a standard practice, it is advisable to obtain a death certificate for each real property owned by the deceased individual, with a few additional copies for handling matters such as life insurance, retirement accounts, and bank accounts. Typically, financial institutions do not retain the death certificate but may request to see it for verification purposes. In the case of non-local or online-only institutions, there might be a requirement to send the original death certificate through mail.
Assets of the deceased individual, exceeding $184,500 in value, are subject to specific conditions: they must not be titled under a Living Trust, lack a designated beneficiary, or lack a surviving joint owner.
In such cases, a small estate affidavit might be necessary, and it’s common for various banks to provide their own required forms. However, we strongly advise seeking the assistance of an attorney, as there are specific legal criteria that must be met to properly utilize a small estate affidavit.
Certain tax decisions are mandated by law to be addressed within nine (9) months of the decedent’s death, while other tasks in trust administration should be carried out within a “reasonable” timeframe. To ascertain the specific actions the Trustee must undertake and the corresponding timelines, we strongly advise the Trustee to schedule a meeting with an attorney.