Even if you have created a well-designed estate plan that achieves your goals, you may still wonder how to ensure your plan will be administered as you expect. If you have named a family member or loved one as your successor trustee, will that person be capable of carrying out their fiduciary responsibilities during a time of emotional distress and mourning? If you have chosen a professional trustee, how do you know your trust will be administered smoothly and according to your wishes? To get the most out of your trust, be sure to work with a qualified attorney who can assure you they are prepared to help your successor trustee wind down your affairs, administer your trust, and ensure your beneficiaries have what they need during the administration process.
The trustee you name will have fiduciary duties, owed to the trust beneficiaries, that must be upheld throughout the trust administration process. The trustee must administer the trust according to its terms and cannot use the trust for their own benefit. As well, the trustee must deal with all beneficiaries impartially.
These are some of the more important trust administration duties your trustee will have:
- Locating your estate planning documents (trust document, will, etc.). You can help by letting your trustee know where these documents are kept and by giving the trustee your attorney’s contact information.
- Collecting other important documents such as insurance policies, real estate deeds, car titles, bank and investment account statements, and tax returns.
- Meeting with your attorney to determine the strategy for administering your trust and to prepare the legal documents needed to carry out that plan.
- Preparing a list of creditors and arranging to pay off any debts.
- Preparing lists of property, accounts, jewelry, and other valuables, and obtaining a professional valuation of these items, when needed.
- Filing all the necessary tax returns and paying any taxes due. This could include not only the trust income tax return and the estate tax return, but also a final income tax return.
- Maintaining the required trust accounting.
- Understanding what property and money are included in the trust, and ensuring things are allocated and transferred to your beneficiaries in a way that reflects your intentions as expressed in the trust.
While this list may seem intimidating, a qualified attorney can help guide your trustee successfully through each step in the process.
If you have not recently reviewed your property and assets, trust funding, choices of trustees and beneficiaries, and the structure of your plan, we would encourage you to contact our office for a free consultation.
We would also invite you to download a free copy of our Successor Trustee Manual from our website at www.klinglawoffices.com. At Kling Law Offices, our goal is to help you plan well and then to help your successor trustee carry out those plans so you can have the peace of mind you deserve.