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Trust Administration


Trust Administration

Trust administration deals with the legal consequences of the death of one or both of the persons who established the Trust. Typically, this is the surviving husband or wife. As part of planning for desability or death, many people have established revocable or irrevocable Trusts. Our firm provides legal advice for the formation of such Trusts as well as advice to the person responsible for administration of the Trust, called the trustee.

As a result of the estate plan, general California law and a variety of tax laws, the passing of one of the persons who established the Trust has a number of important legal consequences. Most notably, the death can result in significant changes in the terms of the Trust. The surviving party may now be required by the Trust agreement to perform various acts. These may include dividing the Trust property between sub-Trusts that are described in the Trust agreement, appraising the property held in the Trust and complying with the provisions of the Trust agreement in managing and distributing such property.
Usually it is the surviving spouse who is charged with these responsibilities and is designated as the Trustee under the terms of the Trust. When our firm is hired by the surviving spouse who is also the Trustee we are able to provide the advice to the Trustee about what is required under the terms of the Trust.

In some instances the Trust will designate a third party as the Trustee upon of the passing of one of the persons who established the Trust. In other cases our office is retained by the Trustee who is designated by the Trust to act following the death of the both the persons who established the Trust.

Overview of Tasks to Be Performed As Trustee of the various Trusts established by the Trust agreement, the Trustee, who is usually the surviving spouse, has the legal responsibility for performing a number of tasks. Some of the more significant tasks include:
  1. Segregation of the deceased's property from the survivors property. This does not always require a physical segregation, but it must be possible to distinguish between the two types of property.
  2. Preparation of an inventory of all property owned by the decedent at death.
  3. Giving notice to all named beneficiaries and to all heirs of their right to receive a copy of the terms of the Trust.
  4. Prudent management, protection, and investment of the property, including maintenance of the property and liability insurance.
  5. Obtaining appraisals of the real and personal property.
  6. Preparation of a list of all of the decedent's debts at the date of death.
  7. Payment of various debts and Trust expenses.
  8. Transfer of the decedent's property to the various sub-trusts established at the decedent's death.
  9. Possible preparation and filing of estate tax returns.
  10. Notification to the county assessor of the changes in real estate ownership resulting from the decedent's death and filing documents required to avoid property tax reassessment.
  11. Preparation and filing of the decedent's income tax returns for the income received before death.
  12. Preparation and filing of state and federal income tax returns for the various Trusts.
  13. Making appropriate Trust distributions.
  14. Preparation of periodic written reports to the beneficiaries on the financial status of the Trusts.
  15. Taking appropriate action with respect to the decedent's property that is not included in the Trust.
Because of the complexity of some of these tasks most Trustees will seek legal advice. It is important to remember that the Trustee is held to a very high standard under the law for actions taken in connection with the management of the affairs of the Trust and its assets.
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  Tel: 626-795-8844
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