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Trust Administration

attorneys meeting their client about setting up a living trust

What You Need To Know About California Trust Administration

Many Californians create revocable living trusts so that their children or others can bypass the tedious probate court process.  Although administering a trust outside of probate is generally less onerous, Trustees still have numerous duties which may be neglected without a proper understanding of California’s trust administration laws.  It is critical that Trustees perform their role in accordance with both the law and the trust document to avoid any personal or fiduciary liability.   At Weiner Law we counsel Trustees through the trust administration process to ensure that all legal requirements are met and the trust is administered accordingly.

A Trustee is responsible for administering the trust and distributing its assets in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible.  It takes some legal knowledge, financial management skills, and patience to manage trust assets, and professional support goes a long way.  Trust administration can be complicated, posing numerous traps for the unwary.

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Trustee Responsibilities in California

A Trustee must prepare legal documentation, coordinate asset transfers to beneficiaries, and file tax returns on time.  They also perform formal, legally required trust accountings to inform beneficiaries of the status and property in the trust.  These tasks are time sensitive, and delays can cause both legal and financial consequences.  Because many Trustees are new to the administration process, we recommend a consultation to ensure you are adequately apprised of the responsibilities.

Under California law, a Trustee must complete the following specific tasks once the trust creator passes away:

  • Notify each beneficiary of the decedent’s passing, including specific legal warnings and notices
  • Read and review all trust and ancillary documents
  • Collect, marshal, invest, and properly distribute the trust creator’s assets, including those outside the trust
  • Pay routine estate administration expenses, such as attorney or accountant fees
  • Pay necessary taxes on behalf of the trust creator and the trust itself
  • Prepare formal trust accounting documents for beneficiaries
  • Track their time for a reasonable payment

In addition to these tasks, there are numerous other responsibilities that could apply in various cases.  No two cases are the same.  At Weiner Law we will provide you with a blueprint that sets out the responsibilities that apply in your particular case.  We will then assist you in accomplishing the various tasks that are required.

What is the Process of Trust Administration?

The trust administration process begins once the trust’s creator dies.  Trust administration can vary depending on the type of trust, but the process will always involve:

  • Working closely with beneficiaries and possibly other Trustees;
  • Identifying, locating, and managing assets;
  • Implementing the deceased’s wishes;
  • Paying any remaining debts of the estate;
  • Facilitating trust transfers of assets or properties to new owners, and more.

The trust administration attorneys at Weiner Law can help guide Trustees through these responsibilities properly.  Mistakes can be costly, both in terms of personal liability and accountability to the courts.  We believe it is always best to prevent errors before they happen, rather than fixing errors that arise later.

Pitfalls in Trust Administration

man stressed about creating his trust

Assuming responsibility for a trust is challenging.  The following pitfalls might hinder effective trust administration:

  • Filed or threatened lawsuits may lower the trust’s worth and hinder the Trustee’s task of protecting its value.
  • A poor relationship with the trust’s beneficiaries causes challenges in trust administration.
  • Co-managing the trust with another Trustee makes decision-making more complicated.
  • If the Trustee lacks proper asset management skills or is unfamiliar with the trust’s assets or details thereof, trust administration is problematic.

One solution to counter these pitfalls is effective legal support from attorneys at Weiner Law.  However, hiring a trust administration attorney does not alleviate the legal responsibilities imposed on the Trustee.  The Trustee does not cease to serve as Trustee upon hiring legal counsel. Together, Trustees and legal counsel from Weiner Law will methodically move through the process to effectively discharge the Trustee’s duties.

A lawyer is also helpful for guidance, trust administration experience, avoidance of errors, and unique representation in contentious legal battles after the trust assets distribution process. Legal support like ours can save the Trustee time and help them prepare for or avoid conflict. For example, challenges might arise with a beneficiary who attempts to contest the provisions of the trust.  Weiner Law offers extensive support and helps Trustees prepare for any challenges they may face.

How Weiner Law Can Help California’s Trustees

The attorneys at Weiner Law provide counsel and guidance in trust administration.  Our trust attorneys help Trustees with:

  • Separating personal assets from trust assets;
  • Handling beneficiaries impartially;
  • Distributing gifts, assets, or inheritance impartially according to the trust or estate plan;
  • Managing debts, tax, expenses, and income sources;
  • Preventing a conflict of interest with the beneficiaries;
  • Contesting trust legalities; and
  • Handling trusts created under duress or via undue influence or coercion.

We also have the skills to resolve issues like trust document forgery, fiduciary duty breach, and lack of mental capacity to manage a trust.

Trust Administration FAQs

At Weiner Law, our attorneys strive to simplify the trust administration process for Trustees and the families of deceased trust creators.  Trustees that find themselves tasked with handling a trust’s assets often find the process stressful, and these are common questions that we are asked by those seeking our services:

Factors affecting trust administration after the death of the Trustee include documentation accuracy, beneficiaries, and much more.  In California, you can expect the process to take several months.  Ask our attorneys at  Weiner Law about your specific case for a more accurate estimate.

Hiring a trust administration attorney from Weiner Law has many advantages and makes the process a lot less stressful. The work required to administer a trust is time consuming, detail-oriented, and unique to the county where the administration occurs.   Without a firm grasp of the process, Trustees might incur personal liability for errors which could have been prevented.  Legal expertise is invaluable to protect against this kind of liability.

Hiring a trust administration attorney from Weiner Law has many advantages and makes the process a lot less stressful. The work required to administer a trust is time consuming, detail-oriented, and unique to the county where the administration occurs.   Without a firm grasp of the process, Trustees might incur personal liability for errors which could have been prevented.  Legal expertise is invaluable to protect against this kind of liability.

In some cases, a Trustee may be liable for their errors or mismanagement of the trust administration process.  This kind of liability can be extremely costly for a Trustee, particularly if a disagreement between beneficiaries escalates to a lawsuit.  Legal guidance should make you aware of these potential risks, ensuring that you avoid costly mistakes and manage the trust with care.

Contact Weiner Law Today for California Trust Administration Services

Federal and state laws govern how successor Trustees must manage trust assets after the death of the trust creator.  Various factors may lead to the Trustee becoming personally liable for their trust management errors, so it is vital to ensure all Trustee actions are conducted strictly in accordance with the law.  It is pivotal for a Trustee to understand the expectations of trust administration, and Weiner Law can help.

The attorneys at Weiner Law ensure Trustees understand how to comply with California’s fiduciary and legal obligations and provide support for questions or concerns.  They help Trustees administer trusts every step of the way.  Contact Weiner Law today for trust administration services.

If you are interested in more information or want to schedule a complimentary consultation, you can write to us or call us at (858)-252-4768.

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