The right choice was made during lifetime to create a living trust.  Following death, the trust assets now avoid the costly and time consuming probate process but still need to be administered and distributed to your designated beneficiaries.  This necessary process is Trust Administration. It generally occurs privately without court involvement.

There are several key tasks that need to be completed including: 

  • Sending a notice required under Probate Code section 16061.7 to all trust beneficiaries and to all heirs at law of the decedent. This notice informs the recipients of the existence of the trust, the identification of the trustee, their right to request a copy of trust and most importantly, dramatically limits the timeframe for a recipient to file a court action contesting the trust.

  • Where the trust owns real estate, an Affidavit of Death of the Trustee should be prepared and recorded in each county in which real estate is held. Accompanying the affidavit, a completed Preliminary Change of Ownership form must be included which alerts the county assessor of the change in ownership and any claim of exemption from reassessment of property taxes. Other forms may be required to be furnished to the tax assessor where certain exemptions from property tax reassessment are claimed.

  • The collection, management and investment of the trust assets.

  • Obtaining a taxpayer identification number for the trust which is necessary for financial accounts held by the trust, sales of property by the trust and for filing income tax returns for the trust.

  • Determining whether a Federal Estate Tax return needs to be filed. The most common reason is where Federal Estate Tax may be due when the value of the decedent's assets including those held outside the trust less allowable deductions exceeds the exemption from the Federal Estate Tax. That exemption in 2019 is $11,400,000 and is indexed for inflation. A Federal Estate Tax return might also be filed in order to elect portability where assets are being transferred to a surviving spouse.

  • Preparing an accounting of the assets and of the actions taken by the Trustee in the administration of the trust. This can be waived by the beneficiaries.

  • Distributing the remaining assets to the trust beneficiaries.

As you can see from the above, trust administration can involve several complicated tasks which can appear overwhelming.  At the Law Offices of Elliott Abrams, we have been providing Trust Administration services to clients for more than 35 years and can assist you to simplify and streamline the process.

CONTACT our Walnut Creek Law Offices at 925-947-1333 to schedule a consultation.