Opening And Closing Bank Accounts In Trust Name

Hi. My name’s Bridget Mackay. I’m an attorney in Petaluma, California, and I practice in the area of estate planning and elder law.

Today I want to talk about a question I had from a client who has just become the trustee for her parents. Her father passed away, as did her mother, and now all the assets are there and she’s the person in charge. This is a big job, and not all the information about this big job is going to be in this video blog. I’m going to address something very specific, and that is the question of opening and closing bank accounts that are in the trust’s name.

Generally speaking, when you are a trustee and both people or the single person has died and you have taken over, your job is to transfer assets into your name now, as the trustee of that trust, so “Jane Smith, as the trustee of the Smith Trust.” Your job is to go to each bank, investment house, wherever cash money or savings or CDs are invested, and give them paperwork you would get from your qualified estate planning attorney that says, “These folks are dead. This person is the successor trustee, and they are now acting.” It’s very important to get everything transferred over into the name of the trust, because that’s the only way you can manage those monies, pay bills, give out distributions according to the trust, and all of those responsibilities that you now have as a trustee.

Whenever I get the question, “Do I need to transfer bank accounts over?” I always answer, “Yes.” The follow-up is, to that, “What if I just clean it out and open up another account?” Well, that’s essentially the same thing. Your attorney when you work with them will develop the paperwork you need, get a tax ID number, a new social security or tax ID number for that account, so that any taxes related to it will stay within the trusts.

Any questions like these, you always, always should contact a qualified estate planning attorney in your area to get follow up on it. Thanks.