The trustee of a trust bears a great personal responsibility of ensuring that the trust is handled properly. Trustees have a duty to manage the trust’s assets in accordance with the terms of the trust. A trustee must administer the trust in the interest of the beneficiaries.
If you have been chosen to manage a trust, consult a law firm in Santa Rosa. Discuss with your attorney the steps you need to take to administer the trust properly. Your lawyer will advise you on how to comply with the applicable Trust Law and the provisions of the trust you are managing.
We have drawn up a trustee checklist that you can use to ensure smooth sailing. The checklist includes tasks and steps that a trustee needs to complete. Take a look.
- Collect all official documents and records you will need to administer the trust. Collect all estate planning documents, including last will and testament, multiple certified copies of the death certificate of the creator, last filed federal and state income tax returns, life insurance policies, pension plan statements, IRA and 401(k) account statements, financial statements, and trust transfer deeds
- Review the trust agreement thoroughly. Look for information regarding your authority and responsibilities as a trustee. If the living trust contains bypass trust provisions, consult a law firm in Santa Rosa before taking any decision regarding the trust property
- Secure the trust property. Review the contents of safe deposit boxes (if any) held in the name of the trust. Create an inventory of assets
- Before seeking beneficiary consent, waivers, or releases, consult a lawyer. Ask the professional to use appropriate (legal) language while drafting the waiver document
- If the trust property includes investments such as bonds, stocks, rental property or a business, consult a financial planner. Ask the professional to create a roadmap for managing the investments properly
- Maintain accurate financial records regarding all trust income, expenses, transfer, transactions, and sales
- Open a bank account for the trust
- Apply for benefits payable to the trust, including death benefits on a life insurance policy and IRAs, pension plans, 401(a), 401(k) and 403(b) plans, employment compensation, and insurance proceeds
- Review estate planning documents. Check whether the creator disinherited an heir. Determine potential areas of disputes. Consult an attorney about the best way to handle potential claims against the trust
- Pay debts and local, state, and federal taxes before distributing assets. File required tax returns
- Complete a trust accounting. Provide details to the beneficiaries
- Distribute assets and income according to terms of the trust agreement. Draft a Trust Distribution Letter
- Prepare documentation to close the trust
Being a trustee is not easy. A trustee has various responsibilities. Johnston Thomas Law is committed to helping trustees fulfill their fiduciary duty to manage the trust prudently. We are a team of skilled and experienced trust attorneys. No matter how complex the trust you are managing, our team will help you avoid roadblocks to trust management and ensure smooth sailing. To talk to one of our seasoned attorneys, call 707-545-6542.