Long Beach Trust Administration Lawyers Providing Legal Services and Advice for Clients and Their Families in California
Trusts have been growing in popularity as an estate planning tool that allows individuals to keep a large share of their estate out of probate and streamline the asset distribution process. But how exactly does the trust administration process work – and as a grantor, are there things you should take into consideration when creating your trust to avoid potential issues? Our attorneys answer a few common questions about trust administration in California.
How Does the Trust Administration Process Work in California?
When a trust is created, the grantor must choose a person that will handle the trust affairs after the grantor passes away. That person is called a trustee. The trustee has a sizable job and many responsibilities, including taking the steps that will eventually lead to the distribution of assets to the trust beneficiaries.
After the grantor dies, the trustee needs to observe a few different deadlines to notify beneficiaries of the trust and file several forms, such as a Notice of Death of Real Property Owner and a Medi-Cal notification to the Department of Health Services, to name a few. This is usually done within the first month or two after the decedent’s death. Next, the trustee will need to inventory and manage all assets included in the trust, such as real estate property, investments, and liquid assets. When everything is accounted for, the process of distributing assets to beneficiaries according to trust terms can begin.
How Should Beneficiaries of the Trust Be Notified?
In most cases, the trustee is expected to notify beneficiaries of a trust within the first 60 days following the grantor’s death, but that timeline may vary. The trust beneficiaries can be notified by mail or in-person and may request to see the trust document.
A beneficiary can be anyone named in the trust document – a family member, spouse, child, friend, and even a charitable organization. Some trusts may also contain contingent beneficiaries who would receive the assets in place of the primary beneficiary if, for example, the primary beneficiary passes away unexpectedly before receiving assets.
What Are the Duties of a Trustee During the Trust Administration Process?
A trustee plays many key roles during the trust administration process. First, a trustee is expected to act as the legal owner of trust assets and ensure they are properly managed and preserved in order to pass them on to beneficiaries. Some trusts may contain assets that will need to be invested, and the trustee is responsible for handling those investments.
A trustee had a fiduciary duty to protect and preserve trust assets and comply with trust terms. He or she has a list of forms and paperwork to deal with as well as filing tax returns (if needed) and making tax decisions. The trustee must also be open to communicating with beneficiaries and answering questions. Finally, the trustee will oversee the process of distributing assets to beneficiaries. Many trustees benefit from relying on the advice of a professional such as a trust administration attorney to make the process smoother.
How Can a Trust Administration Attorney Help?
Losing a loved one is a difficult experience by itself, but adding to it the vast responsibility of being a trustee can sometimes prove to be overwhelming for many. An attorney can play an important role in the process, either by advising the trustee or serving as a professional trustee.
If a trustee is willing and able to take on the role of administering the trust, an attorney can provide guidance and advice to help the trustee take the right steps and avoid costly mistakes that could possibly result in adverse legal action. If a trustee does not feel qualified for the job, or if a trust creator is unable to find a person with the right skills to be a trustee, then an attorney might be able to step in as a professional trustee. Barilari & Williams, LLP, has assisted countless trustors and trustees in Long Beach and surrounding areas. If you have questions or concerns regarding trust administration, contact us at 888-EST-PLAN.