So, you’re named as a Successor Trustee. Now what?

When we talk to our friends and families about estate planning, sometimes, we are asked to be an executor or a trustee. At the time, we may say yes not really understanding what that means, but thinking that it may never actually happen, and if so, it will be decades in the future. But, what happens if one does become a Successor Trustee?

Not just an honor, a fiduciary duty

First, as the Successor Trustee, know that this is not just a way to honor a loved one that has passed, but also comes with a fiduciary duty. This means that the trustee must act in good faith in carrying out the wishes of their departed loved one. This means meeting deadlines and paying, particular, attention to the estate plan details.

Trust administration basics

The basics of Trust Administration are pretty straight forward, but can be complicated in practice. First, contact the county or hospital to get the official death certificate. Then, locate all of the estate planning documents, like wills and trust documents. Third, determine the scope of the estate, including assets and liabilities.

Updates and filings

Update property titles and other accounts to reflect the successor trustee. The will needs to be filed with the local probate court, death certificates will also need to be filed with the county recorder and other property holder and federal and state taxes will also need to be filed.

Closing out the estate

The first step to closing out an estate is distributing personal property as directed by the trust documents. Then, make both preliminary and final distributions of the remaining assets to the heirs. Finally, one will need to make a full accounting of the estate for each year one is acting as the trustee.

It is okay to ask for help

If it is all a little bit too overwhelming, know that it is okay to ask for help. Indeed, especially for those that do not understand the process, asking for help may be the best way to meet that fiduciary duty. Help can be had through a San Jose, California, attorney who can advise clients on how to legally and appropriately an estate. They help make people’s lives easier in times of crisis.