Living trusts save beneficiaries thousands of dollars in probate fees, however, upon the death of the Trustor, there are still steps that need to be taken by the Successor Trustee. These steps are called trust administration and often require some assistance from an experienced attorney. If these actions are not taken or done incorrectly, the Successor Trustee may be held liable to the beneficiaries.
The California Probate Code requires notification by the Successor Trustee to the beneficiaries and heirs of the person who has died. A copy of the will must be filed with the County Clerk. Notices should be sent to the Dept. of Health Services to determine if the person received Medi-Cal benefits as there may be a lien against the estate for reimbursement of those benefits. A similar notice of death should be sent to the Social Security Admiistration, Veterans Administration (if applicable) and the credit bureaus. Creditors may need to be dealt with. The issue of estate taxes needs to be considered.
Trust assets need to be inventoried and valued as of the date of death and decisions made as to how the assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries. Will assets be liquidated to provide cash to the beneficiaries or will the assets themselves be divided up in a manner which fulfills the trust’s provisions?
Trust assets consisting of real property need to have the title changed so they can be distributed according to the terms of rhe trust. A Notice of Affidavit of Death needs to be prepared along with new deeds recorded with the County Recorder. If the transfer is from parent to child, a claim for exemption from property tax reassessment should be filed with the County Assessor’s office.
As a final step, the administration should be completed with a final accounting of the estate or a waiver of such accounting by the beneficiaries.
These are just some of the steps which are necessary in a trust administration. If you are a Successor Truste and need assistance with trust administration, contact us at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation. Your first consultation is always complimentary.