Trustee Advice and Trust Administration
Are you currently acting as a trustee or co-trustee?
Dan can advise you regarding your trustee rights and responsibilities, and assist you with all facets of the trust administration process.
The management of a living trust is carried out by the successor trustee after the creators have passed away. This is known as trust administration. Below is a brief overview of the process.
From Revocable to Irrevocable Trust
After the last creator (or settlor) of a trust passes away, the once revocable trust is now “irrevocable” because the settlor was the only person who had the power to revoke or amend the trust. Thus, the trust becomes a legal entity separate from the settlor and a taxpayer identification number is required by the IRS. The successor trustee (now acting trustee) requests a taxpayer ID number from the IRS and will use this number to open an account in the name of the trust.
Notification to Beneficiaries
Under most trust agreements, the successor trustee is required to notify the beneficiaries that they have an interest in the trust. There is often also a requirement that the successor trustee provide an accounting of trust assets to the beneficiaries although this may be waived in the trust document.
Successor Trustee Added to Title
When the settlor of a revocable trust passes away, the successor trustee must add their name to trust assets and remove the name of the settlor. While the settlor of a trust is alive, assets are held in the following format: “Settlor’s Name, trustee of Settlor’s Name Revocable Trust.” When the settlor passes away, the successor trustee must notify various institutions of this fact and add their name to the title of the assets. Title will now be held as: “Succesor Trustee’s Name, trustee of Settlor’s Name Revocable Trust.” By doing this the successor trustee will be able to gather the assets, turn them into cash, and distribute them according to the terms of the trust. This must be done for both financial accounts as well as real property.
Payment of Debts and Distribution
After all the assets have been gathered and debts of the settlor (including taxes) are paid, the successor trustee will distribute the assets according to the terms of the trust.
Trust administration is not a complex process but must be done in a methodical fashion. Even though there are some specific requirements involved, a revocable trust administration is vastly preferable to the probate process both in terms of cost and duration. If you have any questions about revocable living trusts or estate planning I am happy to assist you.
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