Trust Administration

Sequoia National ParkYour loved one saved your family from an expensive, lengthy and public probate process by creating a trust.  He or she placed a high level of confidence in you by appointing you as trustee. Now that it’s time to administer the trust, you’re probably wondering where to begin.  You may be getting calls from the trust beneficiaries and creditors.  Don’t feel overwhelmed. A trust administration attorney can quickly guide you through the process.

Trust administration is a legal process.  Some people are surprised to learn that California Probate Code applies to private trusts.  Although trust administration takes place outside of court and is much simpler than a probate, the law requires a few things to happen before trust property can be distributed to its beneficiaries. First, all beneficiaries must be notified and given an opportunity to review the trust.  There are documents to be prepared and filed with the county.  Taxes, funeral expenses, medical bills, administrative costs, and valid creditor claims must be paid prior to final distribution.  In most cases, trust beneficiaries have a right to request a full accounting, inventory, and appraisal of the trust estate. If there is a dispute that cannot otherwise be resolved, the matter may be brought to probate court for resolution.

We can help you get it done. Chances are, being a trustee is new to you.  Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to protect estate assets and make prudent financial decisions.  Mistakes with real property transfers or taxes could lead to major complications down the road. PETRUSHA LAW will advise you on what steps must be taken and how to handle any issues that come up. When you come to our office, we’ll ask you about any potential challenges to the trust and let you know which documents you need to gather so we can complete the legal filings for you.

If you are the surviving spouse for a joint trust, please be aware that even if there are no distributions to make, there are a few steps you need to take to give legal notice that you are now the sole trustee, especially if you own real property.  You should also establish the current value of the decedent’s share of the estate and take advantage of any “step-up” in tax basis which may reduce your future taxes.

If you are a trustee and want to be sure you’re properly administering the trust estate, contact PETRUSHA LAW today.