If you’ve been named trustee of a loved one’s trust, you’ll be tasked with trust administration after their death. What is trust administration? Trust administration is the process of settling the trust and then distributing the assets to the listed beneficiaries.
Trust administration is a complicated legal process that must be followed precisely, which is why the help of a San Diego trust administration attorney can be highly beneficial.
What Does a Trust Administration Mean?
When you’re named trustee or successor trustee, you’re tasked with administering a trust after the death of the person who created the trust. Though difficult, if at all possible, the job of trust administration will be made easier if you talk to your parents or loved ones prior to their death to understand the nuances of their wishes when it comes to how they want the trust managed after their death.
Trust administration includes settling any debts, paying taxes, transferring property titles and any other administrative tasks that must be handled to close out or settle the estate of the person who has died. Trust administration must be done in accordance to the documents prepared by those who created the trust.
There are many steps involved in trust administration and to do it properly, it’s important to seek out the help of a San Diego trust administration attorney.
What is Trust Administration?
Though the difficulty of trust administration is somewhat dependent upon the size of the trust, no matter the size, there are still numerous steps that must be followed properly and paperwork that must be filled out correctly. That’s where the help of a trust administration attorney can be helpful.
In general, there are a few steps that must be followed in any trust administration process.
Trust Administration Overview
After the creator of the trust dies, the management of the trust transfers to the trustee or successor trustee. It’s the job of the trustee to manage or administer the trust in the way that is laid out in the trust documents.
Trust administration is unique to each trust. The role of the trustee will vary depending upon the wishes of the trust owner and what is required by the trust documents. That being said, there are some generalizations and commonalities between most trusts.
Trust administration generally includes the requirements to settle trust debts, transfer property titles, and to send notice to beneficiaries, among other tasks.
1. Manage the Assets in the Trust
The trust documents should list all of the assets owned by the trust. Those assets might include investment accounts, physical property, and any other assets.
Asset management might include obtaining titles, seeking appraisals, reasonably investment, paying off debts, and asset identification. Before you can distribute the assets to beneficiaries, you must be sure that the trust has identified all assets and titles can be legally obtained and transferred.
2. Keep Safe Legal Documents and Records
A very important aspect of trust administration is finding all legal documents and keeping them safe. Proper estate planning will have all of the necessary documents already located in one, safe location, but this might not be the case.
When you’re tasked with trust administration, it’s important to do your due diligence and ensure that no documents have gone missing, been forgotten, or any assets not included in the trust documents.
3. Protect Assets and Property
Part of trust administration is for the trustee to protect all trust assets and to manage them to make sure none are lost, stolen, or destroyed.
While a trustee is going through the process of trust administration, it’s important that they prudently and reasonably invest any assets owned by the trust. As part of protecting assets, the trustee cannot let investments sit idle, invest in something overly risky, or allow real property to become derelict.
Proper trust administration requires that the trustee reasonably invest assets and rent or maintain real property during the period of time it takes to resolve and administer the trust.
4. Send Out a Mandatory Notice to All Beneficiaries
Another task that’s required of the trustee during the trust administration process is to notify all beneficiaries that the trust is being settled.
Notification of beneficiaries is done through a specific legal form. This form must be mailed to beneficiaries. Once that has been done, beneficiaries have 120 days to contest the trust.
5. Pay Debts and Expenses of the Trust
Part of trust administration is paying the expenses of a trust as well as paying off any debts that the trust might have. This must be done before distributions can be made to beneficiaries.
Though not required, it is prudent to notify any creditors who are owed payment by the trust that the process of trust administration has begun. This notification begins the creditor claim period. If a creditor makes a claim after this period has begun, then the trust doesn’t have to pay that creditor.
6. File Tax Returns and Pay Taxes
One of the more arduous tasks that must be taken care of during the trust administration process is to file the trust’s tax returns and pay the necessary taxes.
Preparing the trust’s tax return will be complicated, so it’s important to seek the help of a CPA to make sure it’s done properly. Once the tax return for the trust is filed, you must pay the trust’s taxes.
7. Distribute Trust Income and Property
Once you’ve settled the debts, notified beneficiaries, and completed the final tax return for the trust, you can then distribute the property and income of the trust to the beneficiaries.
Once the property and income has been distributed, your job as trustee and the process of trust administration is complete.
What Trustees Need to Do: Checklist
Having a checklist and understand the process of trust administration can make following the steps simpler for the trustee.
- Manage trust assets
- Locate and protect all legal documents
- Protect property and wisely invest assets
- Notify all trust beneficiaries of trust administration
- Notify trust creditors and pay trust debts
- File trust tax return
- Pay trust taxes
- Distribute trust income and property to beneficiaries
The trust administration process will vary depending upon the trust instructions and assets. These general steps can help you to better understand the trust administration process, but it’s important to seek the help of a San Diego trust administration attorney to help you complete the process legally and more easily.
Finding the Best Trust Administration Attorney in California
It’s important that the proper process is followed and that all steps taken during trust administration are legal. That’s why it’s important to seek the help of one of the best trust administration attorneys in California.
If you’re ready to hire a trust administration attorney, get a free consultation at Kam Law Firm with our San Diego trust administration attorney today. Trust administration is not an easy process to understand, especially if you’re emotionally involved after the death of a loved one. A trust attorney can make your job as trustee during trust administration much easier and save you time.