If you have been put in charge of the trust administration process to settle an estate involving a living trust, this trust administration checklist can help you. There is a lot of responsibility that is involved in administering a trust and you need to ensure that you have done the necessary steps to facilitate the timely and efficient transfer of assets to the beneficiaries designated in the trust after the trust creator passes away. Having a checklist can help.
A trust administration lawyer at Clarity Legal Group® can also provide you with personalized one-on-one advice and with assistance in completing the steps that are on your trust administration checklist. You don’t want to make mistakes that make the process take longer, that reduce the value of assets, or that result in allegations being made that you failed to fulfill your job as trust administrator. You should give us a call to find out more about the ways in which our firm can provide you with assistance and advice.
Trust Administration Checklist
If you are overseeing the trust administration of a revocable living trust, the steps you will need to take include:
- Obtaining death certificates: You may need these to prove that the deceased has passed away when you do other steps in the trust administration process. Usually, the funeral home will assist in obtaining these.
- Do an inventory of estate assets, defining how they are owned. By this, I mean, are they owned under the trust, or controlled by some other arrangement which will move then into the Trust (such as a “Pour-Over Will” or a contractual beneficiary designation. You should also determine what debts and liabilities exist.You need to know everything that the trust owns as well as any legal responsibilities or obligations that the trust must fulfill.
- Obtain a copy of the trust document: You will need to have a copy of the living trust that is being administered. It can also be helpful to have a copy of the original will as well.
- Obtain a tax identification number for the trust and file all required tax paperwork. The Social Security number of the trust creator will no longer be used on accounting and tax forms after death so a tax ID number for the trust will be needed for all essential tax filings. The Trust Administration team at Clarity Legal Group® will secure the tax identification number for anyone we are assisting.
- Manage the trust assets: It will be your responsibility to manage the assets in the trust during the duration of the trust administration process until the wealth is transferred to new owners. This can mean doing things such as paying bills that are due or collecting on debts that are owed to the trust.
- Keep a careful accounting of all of your expenses: If you incur expenses as the trustee, or if you spend money out of accounts owned by the trust, you will need to document all of these things. This means keeping copies of invoices and receipts, making copies of outgoing checks, and keeping all account ledgers up to date. A trustee has a fiduciary duty not to mismanage money. This includes a duty to manage trust assets in a responsible way while keeping records of actions you take which will help you prove you are fulfilling your obligations.
- Provide appropriate notice of the trust administration process to interested parties. It is important for those with potential legal claims or with a possible legal interest in the estate to know that the trust administration process is taking place. This may include providing notice to Medicaid if the deceased was a Medicaid beneficiary.
- Facilitate the transfer of assets: This could involve recording the death of a property owner, changing titles and deeds, distributing personal property, and otherwise distributing all remaining assets to beneficiaries after paying off any liabilities owed by the trust estate.
Clarity Legal Group® can provide guidance on whether there are any additional steps that you need to take specific to your situation. In fact, just this month more than 150 clients and family members attend our first annual Fiduciary School, which focused on teaching future Trsutees, Executors, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Agents the ins and outs of their powers and responsibilities. We can also provide personalized help going through each of the steps in this process.
Getting Help from a Trust Administration Lawyer
A trust administration lawyer at Clarity Legal Group® can guide you through each of the steps on your trust administration checklist so you can full the responsibilities in the best and most efficient way possible. You owe it to the deceased trust creator, as well as to the beneficiaries of the trust, to ensure that the trust administration process goes smoothly. Our firm will help to make that possible so give us a call at 919-484-0012 or contact us online today.