Most people nominated as Trustee have very little idea of what is expected of them or the liability they take on by agreeing to act as Trustee. We offer guidance during this process and take on as much, or as little, of the tasks as desired.
Click HERE to view a Trust Administration Checklist. Please note that this is not indented to be an exhaustive list of tasks, as each situation is unique. Rather, it is intended to help with the most frequent matter to be addressed.
Under California law, Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the Trust beneficiaries. These duties are enumerated in the California Probate Code § 16000 et seq. Anyone serving as a Trustee should read these sections of the California Probate Code thoroughly and become very familiar with them.
It is critically important for a Trustee to understand their duties and responsibilities because a failure to carry out each and every duty with 100% accuracy with the terms of the trust could cause the Trustee to be personally liable for any damages caused by their failure. It is our experience that Trustees who take on these responsibilities with the belief that they are going to be sued by a beneficiary will be more attentive to properly carrying out their duties and will therefore be better able to withstand a charge of a failure to carry out their duties.
Although having a fully funded Trust avoids Probate, some work must still be done in order to wrap up a person's affairs, pay any creditors, and distribute the remaining assets. The Trust instructs the Successor Trustee how to do this, but there are also additional tasks that must be completed under the California Probate Code.
1) Send Notice of Death to Department of Health Services.
California Probate Code § 215 et seq.
2) Lodge original Will with the Probate Court and pay applicable fees.
California Probate Code § 8200
3) Send notices to beneficiaries and omitted heirs advising them of decedent’s death.
California Probate Code § 16061
4) Prepare a new Certification of Trust providing information regarding the new Trustee.
5) Prepare and file an Affidavit of Death of Trustee and Preliminary Change of Ownership Report with the Counties where any real property is located.
6) Send Notice of inventory and accounting to beneficiaries.
California Probate Code § 16461