I’ve Been Appointed Trustee. Now What Do I Do? (Part II)
Hi everybody. Miranda Dressler here, attorney with the Law Offices of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, California. And in this blog, I’m going to continue to talk about what to do if your parents have named you as the trustee of their trust. And in this second part of the blog (click here for part one)I’m going to be discussing specifically acting as trustee once both of your parents have in fact passed away.
So, in this scenario if you haven’t already taken over as trustee while your parents were still alive. You’re going to need to take steps to formally take over as trustee of the trust. This isn’t something that is going to happen automatically. However, this isn’t something that needs to happen right away either. You have a little bit of time. So, you should really take, initially, some time to be with your family and your loved ones. The administration of your parent’s trust can wait a couple weeks or a couple months.
When you are ready to start the process of administering your parent’s trust, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney. Make an appointment with them and start gathering the relevant documents that you will most likely need to help you in the administration of that trust. So, a copy of the trust itself. A copy of the pour-over will or just really all of their estate planning documents that you can find. Death certificates and asset information is typically the initial documents that, when you meet with the attorney, they’re going to want to see copies of.
And so, as trustee your role really is dictated by what the trust itself says and calls upon you to do. As trustee it’s your role to follow the provisions set out in the trust. And the attorney that you’ve selected to help you through the administration process should be help, should be able to help navigate you through these requirements.
And so, typically the responsibilities of a trustee at this stage will be to notify any other beneficiaries of the trust. Treat all beneficiaries of the trust in an equal manner. Identify and collect the assets of the trust, really making an inventory of all the assets that are in the trust. Consolidating possibly those assets or at the very least managing those assets in a prudent way. For example, if there was a brokerage account with some high risk or relatively high-risk securities, most likely transferring that to something that’s more low risk. And also, the creditor claims of your parents may need to be paid. And although California, as a state, doesn’t have an estate tax. If the taxable estate of your parents was such that in estate tax return needed to be filed for federal state taxes, then making sure that that gets done within nine months after the death is necessary.
And then finally in your role as trustee it’ll be your job to distribute the assets, the assets pursuant to the terms of the trust. And the trust will really outline for you how that is supposed to be done. So, who gets what and how they are receiving it. And the attorney that you’ve selected to help you through the process should you be also able to help you navigate this distribution process.
If you have any other questions about this topic or any other topic please contact an experienced estate planning attorney in your area. Thank you.