What is Trust Administration?

Trust administration is a complex process that can be very time consuming for a trustee unfamiliar with the process. Typically, a trustee should seek counsel of an experienced trust attorney to provide guidance and protection from adverse claims in the future, and to ultimately complete the administration.

Depending on the stage of the administration, the duties and obligations vary greatly. For example, ongoing administrations may be less complex, but will still have reporting and accounting requirements.

Alternatively, if you are dealing with a post-death administration, there are important duties that must be completed in a limited amount of time. Some of these duties include:

  • Obtaining a death certificate for the deceased settlor
  • Develop a proper record-keeping system for accounting and reporting to the beneficiaries, and to protect yourself in the event of future litigation
  • Provide notice to creditors of the deceased settlor and ensure that any valid debts are paid
  • Notify the Social Security Administration of the settlor's death
  • Notify the Department of Health Care Services of the settlor's death
  • Provide specific notices to the heirs at law of the settlor and the beneficiaries of the trust
  • Locate and marshal (collect) all property belonging to the trust
  • Inventory and appraise all property belonging to the trust
  • Ensure the proper management of all trust property 
  • Properly invest and diversify the assets of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries
  • Obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number for the trust
  • File and prepare the deceased settlor's final tax return
  • File and prepare a tax return for the trust assets
  • Distribute the trust assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the trust

While this is a simplified list of your duties as a trustee, acting as a trustee is far more complicated and time consuming. Furthermore, since you have fiduciary duties that you owe to the beneficiaries, such as protecting the trust property, you are always at risk of legal claims by the beneficiaries if you make a mistake, take action which may constitute self-dealing, or take other inappropriate actions.

Retaining an experienced trust attorney is imperative in trust administrations to ensure that you administer the trust in accordance with the law and that you are carrying out the wishes of the settlor as set forth in the trust.

If you are dealing with a trust administration and would like to have a free legal consultation regarding the trust administration, you may schedule such a consultation with our office.

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