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Trust Administration Checklist for Revocable Living Trusts

Posted on: April 19th, 2017
checklistRevocable living trusts are popular estate planning tools. While these legal entities help to avoid probate and alleviate an accounting burden for executors, trust administration and asset management falls on the shoulders of the successor trustee.

Upon the death of the trust grantor (who generally serves as trustee during their lifetime), a successor trustee must manage several pressing matters. Our trust attorneys prepared a brief checklist below that can help successor trustees to navigate the initial stages of trust administration. This list also provides a solid framework for an initial consultation with an attorney, should an individual require legal counsel or trustee services:

Gather documents. Obtain copies of the trust. When the grantor dies and ceases to serve as trustee, appointment of the successor trustee must occur. If the grantor has become incapacitated, medical documents affirming their incapacity may be necessary in order for successor trustee appointment to proceed. Successor trustees should carefully review and consider the responsibilities and fiduciary duties of trustees before accepting the position. In addition to securing a copy of the trust, also organize copies of:
  • Trust amendments
  • Pour-over will
  • Asset documents (bank/brokerage statements, life insurance policies, property titles, etc.)
Review trust terms and titles. Note ambiguous terms that a trust attorney may need to clarify. Some trusts may include memorial instructions for the decedent’s funeral. Review property titles and determine if title issues are present and how to resolve them. 

Contact executor. The successor trustee and the executor named under the deceased grantor’s will may be different individuals. If that is the case, when the grantor dies, their surviving family or their probate attorney can help connect a successor trustee with the decedent’s executor. The successor trustee must take an inventory of trust assets and manage assets until distributions to beneficiaries are complete. While trust terms are confidential, the trustee must ensure the trust assets are not included in the executor’s probate inventory. 

Trust Settlement

Trust administration requires considerable time, review, and attention. Managing the initial phases properly can help to create a foothold for organized accountings and proper tax filings throughout administration to final distribution. Trustees should anticipate a considerable amount of time must pass before trust termination occurs. Some trusts may be in effect for the lifetime of the beneficiaries, and may include secondary beneficiaries. Our trust attorneys will release a complimentary legal guide for trustees this summer. Sign up for the legal library to receive an update when it’s ready. We also have a comprehensive manual for successor trustees available for purchase.
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