What is Trust Administration?
Trust administration is the process of fulfilling the duties of a trustee. In most cases, the person who creates the trust (settlor), whether married or single, is usually both the trustee and beneficiary. In the documents of the trust are the successor beneficiaries and successor trustees who, upon the settlor’s death, will assume the role of trustee.
In this scenario, there is not much for the first trustee to do in terms of administration. The successor trustee, however, has much more work to do. Generally, the process the successor trustee goes through is similar to that of probate, without having to go through probate. They must determine and pay all creditors and debts, determine the value of certain assets, obtain the titles to titled property and distribute the property according to the language of the trust. This is essentially the same goal as a will because it creates a way to dispose of property.
Do I Have a Case?
Ideally, you will not need to go to court at all through process of administering a trust. As the trustee, however, there may be certain scenarios where petitioning the court is a good idea. For example, if the language is unclear in any part of the document, the trustee may wish to petition the court to determine the proper construction or meaning of that provision. This protects the trustee from liability.
Additionally, there is a new law in California called “The Uniform Trust Decanting Act” which allows a trustee to distribute property to a second trust. This requires petitioning the court, but can be a useful tool for trustees administering a trust.
Even if the trust is relatively straightforward and the administration appears simple it is best to consult a lawyer. This will help you avoid any pitfalls or potential liability for missteps in administering the trust. This is necessary because there are certain statutory requirements for administering a trust that need strict compliance. I can assist you in any capacity you wish to help you fulfill your role as trustee. The best way to contact me is at (310)-598-7191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and helping you decide the best way forward.