ADMINISTERING A LIVING TRUST AFTER DEATH OF TRUSTORS
Although a Living Trust avoids the time and expense of Probate, there are still critical tasks the Successor Trustee must perform to administer the trust after your death. These tasks include, but are not limited to: notifying beneficiaries, reporting change of ownership of real property to the County Recorder and Assessor, inventorying and valuing all assets as of the date of death, paying debts, filing tax returns and distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of the living trust. The Successor Trustee should retain a qualified trust lawyer to assist with these tasks.
CHECKLIST GUIDE TO HANDLING AN ESTATE
The roles of the Executor and Trustee do not require special financial or legal knowledge. Honesty, persistence, attention to detail and common sense are the main requirements.
The Executor or Trustee will probably need the help of Lawyers, Accountants and other experts. Payment for professional services will be made from the deceased person’s assets.
Being named an Executor or Trustee, or both, does not obligate you to serve and you may resign at any time. If you do not serve, an alternate named in the Trust or Will, with court approval, will take over.
The main reason to serve as Trustee or Executor is to honor the Deceased’s request. The Executor or Trustee is entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation is regulated by state law and will be determined by the value of the property left by the deceased as well as what the court finds reasonable under the circumstances.
The duties of the Trustee and Executor include the following:
• Locate the original Will and Trust if they exist.
• Order several certified copies of the death certificate.
• Have ‘Change of Ownership Report’ and ‘Affidavit of Death of Trustee’ filed for each parcel of real property.
• File will with local probate court.
• Obtain appraisal of real property for value on the date of death.
• Prepare inventory of all assets to determine total value of estate.
• Identify form of title such as ‘community property’, ‘joint tenancy’, ‘pay on death’ or ‘designated beneficiary’ of each asset.
• Collect insurance and other benefit proceeds.
• Make list of Deceased’s debts and creditors and pay them if appropriate and required. Cancel and pay credit cards. Continue to pay mortgage, homeowner’s insurance premiums and utility bills.
• If assets, not held in trust, joint tenancy or with beneficiary designation are under $150,000, consider use of affidavit procedure. (PC 13100)
• Determine whether amount and type of property require Probate and, if so, file petition with court for appointment of Executor.
• Fulfill ‘Duties of Personal Representative’ as directed by the Court.
• Notify Social Security, Medi-Cal, Medicare, Veteran’s Administration and any other source of retirement income. Notify post office.
• Manage assets with care of a prudent person dealing with someone else’s property.
• Keep Estate assets separate from anyone else by opening an Estate or Administration account for only those funds.
• File appropriate final income tax, fiduciary tax and estate tax returns.
• Prepare accurate accounting of all money and property received and disbursed.
• Make distributions to all beneficiaries specified in Trust or Probate Order.
In the course of administering the estate, your lawyer and
Accountant will likely require copies of all of the following
documents and information regarding the Deceased at the
time of death:
• All Wills, Codicils, Trusts and Amendments.
• Trusts of which the deceased was a Trustee or Beneficiary.
• One certified copy of the Death Certificate.
• List of safe deposit boxes, by bank and branch.
• Deeds of Trust, Notes, or Accounts Receivable representing payments owed to the Deceased.
• Individual stock certificates, bonds, annuities or other securities.
• Month of death bank statements and mutual fund and stock brokerage account statements.
• Month of death IRA, 401k, 403b and other qualified pension benefit statements, including beneficiary designations.
• Deceased’s most recent income tax return.
• Written records of all payments made and expenses incurred since the date of death.
• Bank statements for Estate Administration Accounts created after death.
• Individuals and organizations identified as beneficiaries in the trust or will.
& House Calls
Estate Planning, Living Trusts,
Trust Administration & Probate
7250 Redwood Blvd., Ste. 355
Novato, Ca 94945
Tel: (415) 898-5958
Fax: (415) 892-5446