Have you been named a Trustee? Going through the trust administration process is easier said than done. The decisions you make will have a great impact on the decedent’s estate, as well as those who are set to receive property as outlined by the trust.
Although you have many other things on your plate, it’s important that you understand the finer details of trust administration, including the steps you need to take and the mistakes you should avoid.
The following checklist will help you understand how trust administration works, what steps need to be taken, and how to remain on track from start to finish. If you’re working with an experienced trust administration attorney, you’ll be happy to know that he or she will take care of many of these steps on your behalf.
- Review the trust. At this time, you learn more about the trust itself, including the assets as well as the people named as beneficiaries.
- Obtain legal documents and records necessary to administer the Trust and certify the validity of the Trust when dealing with third parties.
- Collect information regarding the assets. Once you know which assets were held in the trust, you can begin to collect information related to each one. Some trusts only hold a few assets, while others are much more advanced. You never know what you’ll find until you review the trust.
- Calculate the person’s debts and liabilities. While a focus on assets is important, the same holds true for any debts and liabilities that are outstanding at the time of the person’s death. You will need to pay these debts and liabilities before distributing the assets.
- Collect monies owed to the trust
- Open and maintain a Trust checking account
- Submit claims on life insurance policies, annuities, bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds, or any other assets in which the Trust is names as beneficiary.
- Track any other assets owned by the Trust’s owner, such as assets that may require probate if they were not transferred into the Trust.
- Maintain inventory of the Trust property
- Pay debts and expenses of the Trust
- Manage Trust assets and investments
- Maintain insurance on assets that will remain in trust
- Obtain appraisals or valuations of Trust assets if necessary
- Sell any Trust property that won’t be distributed to the beneficiaries
- Keep accurate records of Trust income and expenditures
- File tax returns for the deceased and for the Trust if appropriate and issue tax forms for distribution to heirs.
- Provide a Trust accounting and other information to Trust beneficiaries unless beneficiaries waive the right to see any accounts
- Distribute Trust income and property to beneficiaries
- Execute documents to transfer title to Trust property to beneficiaries, such as deed for real estate
Note: once these steps have been taken, the trust can be closed once and for all.
If you’re faced with trust administration and are unsure of what you’re doing, it would be in your best interest to consult with a trust administration attorney. At our law firm, we’ve helped many people in this situation make their way through the process without delay.