If you are the Successor Trustee of a trust, you have a job with a lot of responsibility. You need to give notice to the trust beneficiaries, inventory and appraise the the trust assets, possibly create sub-trusts, prepare an accounting, file taxes, and make distributions. Administering a trust can be complicated and confusing for the lay person. It involves attention to detail and adherence to certain requirements of the Probate Court.
Here are some issues that may make you rethink doing trust administration by yourself:
1. The beneficiaries request an accounting. Beneficiaries are entitled to an accounting of the trust assets. They can agree to waive an accounting but should any of the beneficiaries request one, it is your obligation as the trustee to provide one. A complicated accounting often involves hiring an accountant to assist you and it may be a good idea to retain an attorney as well.
2. The trust has unusual assets which need to be appraised. Some trusts consist of just real property, cash accounts,securities, personal property, and retirement assets. There are other types of assets which are not as easy to value, such as mineral rights, gas or oil royalties, ranch or farm property, businesses, shopping centers or other commerical real estate, professional practices, and high end artwork and jewelry. An experienced estate planning attorney will have access to various types of appraisers and assist you in making sure all of the trust assets are properly valued.
3. Litigation. If litigation is instituted by a trust beneficiary or by a disinherited heir or even a creditor, it may be time to get an attorney to assist you. Not all estate planning lawyers litigate trust issues so you want to find an attorney that is familar with the probate court and routinely does litigation so that they are familiar with taking depositions and going to trial, if it becomes necessary.
If you are overwhelmed with your duties as successotr trustee and need help in getting through the trust administration process, contact us at Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation. Trust administration is one of our specialties and we also handle trust litigation. Contact us for a complimentary and confidential consultation about your trust administration matter.