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Guidance And Reassurance For Managing Trusts

Grantors who include trusts in their estate plans often don’t consider the challenging work of overseeing them. Trustees can also face considerable risk when administering a trust. If you are a trustee, you may need help from an experienced trust administration attorney.

At The Sterling Law Group, A P.C., we’ve been handling trust administration issues in California for years and understand the nuances that come with it. Our knowledge and guidance can help simplify the process by ensuring you comply with trust rules and address the needs of beneficiaries.

What Are My Duties As A Trustee?

Trustees, or trust administrators, have legal duties they must uphold in their role. These fiduciary duties state that trustees must always:

  • Act in the beneficiaries’ best interests.
  • Disclose material information to beneficiaries and inform them of the trustee’s actions and the status of the trust.
  • Treat beneficiaries equally.
  • Enforce and defend reasonable claims involving the trust, even if they result in overall losses to the trust.

The legal implications surrounding these duties can make matters complicated. Beneficiaries can accuse trustees of violating their fiduciary responsibilities and sue them at any time. When this happens, it can add to the stress of the probate and distribution process.

The Trust Administration Timeline

Here is a timeline of how a trustee must fulfill their duties after the grantor dies.

Within 30 Days

Within 30 days of a grantor’s death, a trustee must file the most current trust and any amendments or modifications to it with the county clerk. You must do this in the county where the grantor lived at the time of their passing. As a result, the trust becomes irrevocable. That means no one can change the trust without entering a formal contest process in probate court.

Within 60 Days

Trustees must notify the heirs and beneficiaries of the grantor’s death within 60 days. They must also remind beneficiaries of their rights. Among those is the right for beneficiaries to request a copy of the trust and contest the estate. The trustee must put this notice in writing.

Within 120 Days

Once heirs and beneficiaries get notified, they have 120 days to challenge the trust. If they do so after 120 days, their challenges could face rejection without consideration.

After you’ve taken these mandatory steps, you can begin carrying out the instructions outlined in the trust instrument. These first steps include locating and valuing the assets, paying debts, making financial distributions and any investments or property sales. You may also find that the trust owes current or back taxes. The taxes due may include state and federal income taxes and estate taxes if the grantor’s estate exceeds the exemption threshold. The current threshold is more than $12 million.

Get Honest Trust Administration Guidance Today

Our skilled trust administration lawyers can help you understand your fiduciary duties and ensure you fulfill them. Whether it’s navigating trust rules or managing relationships with beneficiaries, we can provide knowledgeable guidance. Call us at 916-727-6904 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.