Trust Administration differs from a Probate in many respects. In California, it is the Personal Representative who administers an Estate whereas in a Trust Administration, it is the Trustee’s responsibility.
Have you been named as a Trustee of a trust? A Trustee has many duties as well as an ethical obligation to protect the trust assets and the interests of the beneficiaries.
When a person dies leaving a valid trust, a Trust Administration becomes necessary to carry out the wishes of the decedent’s as written in his or her trust. A trust is a contractual relationship in which trust assets are given from a Settlor to a Trustee. The person who created the trust, the Settlor, appoints a Trustee to administer the trust upon their passing and essentially distribute the assets to the named beneficiaries in the trust. A Trustee must act in their fiduciary capacity in the administration of a trust, which means the Trustee has an obligation to protect the trust assets and the interests of the beneficiaries and in accordance with the terms of the trust.
The basic duties of a Trustee involve the collection, management, investment, and distribution of trust assets. It is also important to keep detailed records as well as prepare an accounting, an inventory, and possibly obtain appraisals. The principal source of Trustee powers and duties is the trust agreement itself, so it is important for the Trustee to be familiar with the terms of the trust. Another important set of duties relates to tax matters. The Trustee must also file certain tax returns, which may include, federal estate tax returns, income tax returns, and fiduciary income tax returns. The Trustee must also be prepared for the possibility that either these returns, or the decedent’s/Trust’s prior tax returns will be challenged by the applicable taxing authorities.
If someone exceeds their Trustee powers, they may be held personally liable for loss or damages to the trust, which is why it is crucial to have experienced trusts and estates attorneys by your side advising you every step of the way. RJS LAW’s trusts and estates attorneys are highly experienced and have assisted numerous clients in administering trusts of all sizes and complexities.
Our law firm will work with the Trustee and beneficiaries to have the trust administered in a timely and professional manner. We can offer peace of mind to the Trustee by making sure the terms of the trust agreement have been satisfied.
If you have been appointed as a Successor Trustee or are currently acting as a Trustee, contact us so that we can assist you in fulfilling your fiduciary duties. Call for a complimentary case evaluation (619) 595-1655