The trustee of a living trust has duties similar to those of an executor in probate. To satisfy their legal obligations to the beneficiaries, trustees and executors should perform a number of crucial tasks:
- Locate decedent’s records to understand the estate’s assets, liabilities, income and expenses.
- Prepare a detailed list of property for record-keeping.
- Notify all the beneficiaries and heirs of their right to receive a copy of the terms of the trust.
- Open a trust bank account to manage finances.
- Manage investment accounts and other assets prudently, including keeping needed property and liability insurance in place.
- Procure professional valuations of real estate and othe high value property.
- Notify the appropriate governmental agencies and pension administrators.
- Pay decedent’s debts and expenses using the trust bank account or other available funds.
- Understand the trust’s design and how property is to be transferred.
- Transfer of decedent’s property according to the trust (includng real property deeds).
- Notify the county assessor of the change in real estate ownership within 150 days of death.
- Prepare and file the decedent’s final federal and state income tax returns for income and deductions occuring before death.
- Prepare and file California and federal income tax returns for the trust reporting post death income and deductions.
- Decide how to allocate assets, in full or in part, among the subtrusts or beneficiaries.
- Prepare periodic written status reports to the beneficiaries.
- Manage, or divide and distribute, the decedent’s retirement accounts.
- Prepare an accounting of all income, disbursements and accrued expenses for the beneficiaries to review.
- Prepare and file a federal estate tax return, if required, and make necessary tax-related elections.
Don’t let the duties of being an executor or trustee overwhelm you. Often Trustees and Executors need the help of a trusted and experienced advisor to guide them through the process. Call our office to better understand your specific situation and how we may be able to help.