When someone creates a trust document, it includes an appointed trustee and several conditions for distributing assets. At the passing of the final trust creator, the Palm Desert trust administration process begins and the appointed trustee becomes responsible for executing the terms of the trust. In some cases, the trustee may also need to manage assets held by the trust until the transfer of assets.
Though a trustee is legally obligated to follow the terms of the document, doing so is not always easy. You may not be familiar with the legal process of administering some of the requirements and could err along the way. These errors could cost family members down the line.
To get around these issues and more, many Palm Desert residents choose to hire an attorney from Bochnewich Law Offices to assist with trust administration. Our oversight helps to reduce any errors while also ensuring trustees adhere to strict ethical standards.
The Main Types of Trusts
There are many different types of trusts that you could become responsible for, such as asset protection. Each of these serves a specific purpose. Keeping that purpose in mind can help ensure you properly fulfill your role as a trustee in California:
- Revocable: This trust allows the creator to make several changes and cancel it altogether, so always ensure you have the most updated documents on hand.
- Irrevocable: As the name implies, neither the trust creator nor anyone else can make changes to this once created.
- Constructive: Unlike most other types of trust, the decedent does not generally create this; instead, a court may determine an implied trust was in place.
- Asset Protection: If the trust holder has a heavy debt load, the asset protection trust can protect the assets it holds from creditor claims.
- Spendthrift: This protection operates similar to the asset protection trust but protects the inheritance from the beneficiary’s creditors.
- Special Needs: These trusts allow special needs persons to receive an inheritance without affecting their Social Security benefits.
- Charitable: These trusts do exist for philanthropic reasons, but one of the main reasons the wealthy use them is to reduce tax liability.
The 4 Responsibilities of a Good Trustee
When you first received the honor of being appointed as a trustee, you probably felt anxious about fulfilling your fiduciary duties. The list of responsibilities is intimidating, so it is perfectly natural to feel this way. Here are the main ones you should keep in mind:
- Disclosure: Inform beneficiaries of material facts related to the trust and continue to provide updates on its management.
- Loyalty: Take actions that represent the best interests of the trust’s beneficiaries.
- Impartiality: Treat no beneficiary more favorably than the others beyond the provisions of the trust.
- Defense or Enforcement: Defend against any claims that could result in a loss to the named beneficiaries and enforce trust instructions.
What The Trust Administration Process Entails
Beyond the general responsibilities that California trustees handle, there are also a dozen or more specific tasks you need to handle in keeping with your fiduciary duties. Not all of these tasks might apply to your specific trust administration experience, but these are all fairly common:
- Obtaining at least 10 certified copies of the death certificate for use throughout the trust administration process
- Obtaining a tax identification number for the trust when it becomes irrevocable
- Locating the real estate deeds for property titled to the trust
- Contacting the probate court that represents your county
What Our Lawyer Can Do for You
In Palm Desert, as a trustee, you don’t need to start the administration process immediately. It is normal to take a month or so to grieve and then revisit the process. You can schedule a start date with our lawyer and we remind you when it is time to get started. We then work with you to make the process as smooth as possible. Here are some of the many trust administration services we provide:
We begin the process by first meeting with you to review the documents, listen to your concerns and learn about the family dynamics. Once we have a good understanding of what the legal expectations and family relationships are like, we are in a much better position to advise you.
You will need to notify the local courts and the beneficiaries of the existence of a trust. You may then choose to let beneficiaries know what the provisions for them are, even if you are not yet in a position to provide all the necessary details. We can help you fill out forms and provide written communication, if necessary.
We help you determine the total value of the trust and how best to ensure it meets the guidelines established for transferal. Note that some trusts hold assets that have a variable value, such as fluctuating stocks, appreciating real estate or depreciating vehicles. The presence of items like these can create complications.
We can assist with the process of transferring intended benefits to the beneficiaries from start to finish. Sometimes, not all assets leave the trust by the end of this initial transferal. For instance, many parents put trusts in place that disperse monthly payments to minors or special needs adults.
Debts and Taxes
If no will and no probate assets exist, you may find yourself responsible for many of the tasks handled by the executor of a will. This includes filing the final tax return and ensuring creditors receive payment from any eligible assets remaining.
When California trust administration calls for skills outside of our areas of expertise, we retain the relevant professionals to ensure you get the assistance you need. For instance, we may retain financial advisors to help with investment decisions and accountants to assist with tax-filing requirements.
Why Choose a Lawyer From Bochnewich Law Offices
Our administrative staff works just as hard as our lawyers to fulfill our promise of a strong commitment to your needs. However, we still ensure your case is handled by our in-house attorneys and not passed off to paralegals.
Our personal and professional touch is one of the many reasons Palm Desert clients continue to return to us for assistance with their California estate planning needs. Contact us for more information at 866-698-6671.