You are the successor trustee of someone’s trust who has just died. What do you do now?
How is Trust Administration Different than Probate?
Probate is required if the decedent had a will or no will at all. If they had a trust, it is completely administered in the attorney’s office without the cost and delay of probate.
For more information about the advantages of trusts versus wills, contact us today.
What Do I Do First?
It takes about two weeks to receive the death certificates. This is a good time to call our office for an appointment about three weeks out.
Meanwhile, there are some steps you should take before your first appointment:
- If the residence is empty, consider changing the locks if there might have been caregivers or family members with a key.
- Contact the insurance company to be sure the homeowner’s insurance policy is in place.
- If there is an alarm company, contact them to register your name and contact information.
Contact all of the decedent’s financial accounts to freeze the accounts until after you meet with the attorney.
What if I Have Funeral and Other Immediate Expenses?
You may need to advance these costs until you are recognized by the bank as the legitimate successor trustee. Be sure to keep track of your mileage and expenses so that you can be reimbursed. If you cannot afford to advance the costs, call us and we will assist you with accessing the funds earlier.
What are My Responsibilities?
We have a complete checklist of tasks to be performed by you. Here is a summary:
- Identify the assets of the estate.
- Preserve the assets from harm.
- Identify and pay the legitimate debts of the decedent.
- Identify and distribute the gifts of personal and real property as specified in the trust.
- Distribute any cash gifts as specified in the trust.
- Sell any real property not to be distributed to the beneficiaries.
- Sell or dispose of the remaining personal property of the decedent.
- Pay the final distribution to the beneficiaries named in the trust.
- Keep the beneficiaries informed at all times as to the progress of the trust administration.
What does it Cost?
The cost of trust administration is significantly lower than probate. Our services are available by the hour at our standard rates. But we can also propose a flat fee so that the legal fees will be fixed for the administration process, unless a dispute arises by a creditor or a beneficiary.
What if I have Questions?
We welcome your questions and are here to guide you through the process each step of the way.