What are a trustee’s responsibilities after a death?

There are so many aspects in life in California that are unpredictable. People have very few guarantees in life. Unfortunately, one of the only guarantees in life is that people will pass away at some point in time. It is important that people plan for this occurring because it is important that their possessions are passed on to the people they want to receive them. People can dictate who will receive their possessions in different ways. People will generally do it in one of two ways though and that is by having a will or a trust.

Trusts have some advantages over wills though. One of the main advantages is that any property which has been transferred to the trust will avoid going through the probate process. This means that it is solely the responsibility of the trustee to administer the trust. There will be no court oversight.

Trustee’s responsibilities and duties

Trustees have a fiduciary duty to administer the estate according to the terms of the trust. This requires them to distribute both income and principle of the estate. It also may require them to value the physical assets in the trust such as the decedent’s home or vehicles. Then they may need to invest that money to best benefit the beneficiaries. They also must follow any directives to distribute the principle in the trust and any income to the beneficiaries.

To ensure that they are following all of the directives and properly exercising their fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, it may require that the trustee hire a financial advisor or other professionals to help make the investments. Doing this also allows the trustee to stay impartial, especially if the trustee is a family member. It can create fights, if people have reason to believe there is any favoritism.

Being a trustee of a trust in California can be a complicated job. Trustees have many responsibilities and there are times that they may not understand exactly what they are supposed to do, especially when the trustee is not a financial or legal professional. Many people do not pick their trustees based on their understanding of the stock market or financial capabilities. Instead, they pick a family member or someone who is a trusted friend. Unfortunately, this can sometimes put the trustee in an awkward position. It is important that a trustee’s duties are performed correctly to ensure there are no breaches of their fiduciary duties. Experienced attorneys understand trust administration and may be able to guide one through the process.