If you have been named the trustee of a trust and the creator of that trust has recently passed away, you may be wondering how to get started with your duties. An attorney can help you throughout the trust administration process, but it can be helpful to have an idea of what to expect prior to your first attorney meeting.
The estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver can help guide you through the trust administration process. Our California attorneys have years of experience successfully assisting trustees with their trust administration duties. Give our office a call today to set up a consultation with an attorney to learn more about how we can help you navigate the trust administration process.
What Is a Trustee?
A trustee is someone who is designated to manage trust assets. In many cases, the trustee will step into this role once the grantor (creator of the trust) has passed away.
The trustee has some substantial duties throughout the trust administration process that they must perform thoroughly and accurately. A trustee can receive compensation for their role in the trust administration.
Getting Started with Trust Administration as a Trustee
Before you meet with the attorney, you should take a few steps to get things organized. Being organized can make a big difference in having the trust administration process go smoothly.
It is essential to refrain from selling or distributing assets or property before you meet with the attorney. You can and should complete some tasks before the meeting, but you should not take substantive action regarding selling and distributing assets until you are advised to do so.
Contact the Executor of the Estate
One of the first things to do is to contact the estate executor if you are not handling both roles yourself. It is helpful to remain in close contact with the executor. This close contact allows you to know how the assets and property are being handled, and what is being transferred into the trust to become your responsibility.
Obtain the Death Certificate
You will also need to obtain a death certificate. You can do this before to the first meeting with your attorney. Be sure to get several copies of the death certificate since you will need them for different tasks you must complete as the trustee.
Identify and Notify the Trust Beneficiaries
Another task to complete before your attorney meeting is to identify the trust beneficiaries. You will also need to notify all of the beneficiaries that the decedent has passed away and designated them as a beneficiary. One helpful way to stay organized is to create a document or spreadsheet containing a list of all of the beneficiaries and their contact information.
Notify Other Necessary Parties
In addition to notifying all of the beneficiaries, you will also need to notify other parties of the decedent’s passing. First, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration and advise them of the death of the decedent. You will also need to notify the California Department of Public Health of the death.
Take an Inventory of the Trust Assets
It will also be very helpful to take an inventory of the trust assets prior to meeting with the trust administration attorney. Going into this meeting with a list of the assets and property will help ensure that all related potential issues are addressed. This can be a time-consuming process, but it will help save time and money in the long run if you get this task done correctly and promptly.
Along with making an inventory of the assets, it is also a good idea to go through and list estimates of the value of each item. This list with estimates will help the attorney know if they will need to file an estate tax return. It will also be helpful for other tax purposes.
Read Through All of the Trust Documents
Another thing you should do prior to meeting with the attorney for trust administration is to take the time to read through all of the trust documents carefully. It is important that you understand as much of it as you can, although your attorney will be able to help you answer any legal or procedural questions that may arise.
Having a good grasp of what the trust documents contain will help you prepare for the meeting with your attorney. You will be able to ask more detailed questions and receive more substantive answers if you understand what the trust documents entail.