Trust administration deals with the legal consequences of the
death of one or both of the persons who established the Trust.
Typically, this is the surviving husband or wife. As part of
planning for desability or death, many people have established
revocable or irrevocable Trusts. Our firm provides legal advice
for the formation of such Trusts as well as advice to the
person responsible for
administration of the Trust, called the trustee.
As a result of the estate plan, general California law and a
variety of tax laws, the passing of one of the persons who
established the Trust has a number of important legal
consequences. Most notably, the death can result in significant
changes in the terms of the Trust. The surviving party may now
be required by the Trust agreement to perform various acts. These may
include dividing the Trust property between sub-Trusts that are
described in the Trust agreement, appraising the property
held in the Trust and complying with the provisions of the Trust
agreement in managing and distributing such property.
Usually it is the surviving spouse who is charged with these
responsibilities and is designated as the Trustee under the terms
of the Trust. When our firm is hired by the surviving spouse who
is also the Trustee we are able to provide the advice to the
Trustee about what is required under the terms of the
In some instances the Trust will designate a third party as the
Trustee upon of the passing of one of the persons who
established the Trust. In other cases our office is retained by
the Trustee who is designated by the Trust to act following the
death of the both the persons who established the Trust.
Overview of Tasks to Be Performed
As Trustee of the various Trusts established by the Trust
agreement, the Trustee, who is usually the surviving spouse, has
the legal responsibility for performing a number of tasks. Some of
the more significant tasks include:
Because of the complexity of some of these tasks most Trustees
will seek legal advice. It is important to remember that the
Trustee is held to a very high standard under the law for actions
taken in connection with the management of the affairs
of the Trust and its assets.
Segregation of the deceased's property from the survivors property. This
does not always require a physical segregation, but it must be
possible to distinguish between the two types of property.
Preparation of an inventory of all property owned by the decedent
Giving notice to all named beneficiaries and to all heirs of their
right to receive a copy of the terms of the Trust.
Prudent management, protection, and investment of the property,
including maintenance of the property and liability
Obtaining appraisals of the real and
Preparation of a list of all of the decedent's debts at the date
Payment of various debts and Trust expenses.
Transfer of the decedent's property to the various sub-trusts established at the decedent's death.
Possible preparation and filing of estate
Notification to the county assessor of the changes in real estate
ownership resulting from the decedent's death and filing documents
required to avoid property tax reassessment.
Preparation and filing of the decedent's income tax returns for
the income received before death.
Preparation and filing of state and federal
income tax returns for the various Trusts.
Making appropriate Trust distributions.
Preparation of periodic written reports to the beneficiaries on
the financial status of the Trusts.
Taking appropriate action with
respect to the decedent's property that is not included in the