Creating a trust is a smart and effective strategy for avoiding probate; however, one of the most common misunderstandings about a trust is that it allows for an automatic distribution of assets without doing anything. Nothing could be further from the truth and sadly this misperception could subject an unknowing successor trustee to personal liability. When a person with a trust passes away, California law requires that certain procedures must be followed. For example, the successor trustee is required to notify the beneficiaries of the trust using a specific format set forth in the California Probate Code. The trustee is also responsible for lodging the will with the court, establishing the trust as a new taxpayer, filing and paying taxes, funding sub-trusts, settling creditor claims, arranging for the sale of assets, accounting to beneficiaries, distributing assets and much more.
Handling the administration of a trust entails complicated and often deadline-driven legal and financial issues. The appointed trustee is a fiduciary and is duty bound to properly administer the trust pursuant to the trust’s terms and California state law. Failure to do so risks personal liability. Our law firm has developed a proprietary system for efficiently handling all aspects of a trust administration, which our clients have found extremely beneficial. We understand what you are going through during this difficult time and are here to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.