If your loved one has just passed away, it can be overwhelming to understand each of the steps you must take to resolve their estate. Maybe you were named as a trustee, or perhaps you’re just a concerned family member who would like to receive their rightful assets. Either way, having a trust administration lawyer on your side is the best way to resolve your family member’s estate quickly and efficiently to avoid delays in the process.
At The Singh Law Firm, our team has years of experience guiding clients through the trust administration process to settle an estate. We can inform you of every legal step you need to take, including finding their financials, paying their debts, and closing bank accounts. Because missing any of these steps or doing them incorrectly could prolong the process, it is essential to have a professional advising you the entire time. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are in charge of a loved one’s estate. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 510-901-5375.
A trust administration can vary in length depending on the complexity of the trust. However, in general, most trusts take about one year to resolve fully. Completing all the steps when going through a trust administration is essential, as skipping steps can elongate the process.
If you are named a trustee, you must file the most current trust within 30 days of your loved one’s passing. Similarly, you must alert any heirs or beneficiaries of your loved one’s passing within 60 days. These beneficiaries have the right to request documents from you, including a copy of the most recent trust, which you must give them if asked. Beneficiaries have a 120-day window to voice their grievances or raise disputes with the trust.
Below are the primary responsibilities of a trustee:
Duty of disclosure: you must disclose all material facts to beneficiaries and keep them informed on the status of the trust and their assets
Duty of loyalty: you must act within the best interests of the beneficiaries
Duty of impartiality: you must treat all beneficiaries equally
Duty to enforce and defend claims: you must enforce and defend claims if they are reasonable and prudent
Failing to abide by these core duties can lead to legal implications in court and potential liability. Before closing an estate, a trust administrator is often asked to submit evidence of their actions and how they resolved the estate. If the court finds that you did not uphold your responsibilities, you could be held liable for any delays or losses the estate suffered. For more information about the duties of a trustee, contact our law office today.
Before resolving an estate, you must spend time gathering the essential estate documents that your loved one left. These documents include anything related to the estate plan or documents that might contain your loved one’s final wishes.
While all estate plans are different, the general documents you must gather include:
Any beneficiaries and heirs of the estate have a right to ask for copies of these documents, so gathering them and keeping them close is essential. If you cannot find these documents or aren’t sure where to start looking, our legal team can assist you.
If your loved one has not yet been laid to rest, you must follow their funeral, burial, memorial, or cremation instructions left in the trust. Trust administrators have a legal duty to follow these instructions to the best of their abilities. If there is no plan in place, then anyone given power of attorney or named in an advanced healthcare directive has the power to make these decisions on your loved one’s behalf.
After you have been named as a trustee, you must review every document within the trust very carefully. Interpreting and understanding these documents is essential, as you will be required to follow the instructions within them. Although you are now the trustee, a trust becomes irrevocable after the grantor passes away. This means that you cannot change or add to the trust even if you are assigned as a trustee.
Look for these points as you review your loved one’s estate plan:
Special instructions about their funeral, burial, or cremation
Who inherits the loved one’s personal effects
The date and location where the trust agreement was signed
Who gets the loved one’s residuary trust
Who gets any specific bequests
Who signed the trust as witnesses
If any documents in the trust seem vague or invalid, it is essential to consult with an attorney immediately. An attorney will review the estate plan to ensure you can follow its instructions legally without taking on liability yourself.
Resolving your loved one’s estate can add stress to an already difficult time in your life. With an attorney from our team on our side, you can rest assured that you are taking all the necessary steps to resolve your loved one’s trust administration and get the beneficiaries their rightful assets. Please don’t feel like you must interpret legal documents and follow trust administration instructions on your own. Contact The Singh Law Firm for help by calling 510-901-5375.