Trust Administration

Administration During the Lifetime of the Trustor

Inter vivos (lifetime) trust administration is the orderly administration of trust assets by the person named in the trust document as the trustee during the lifetime of the trustor (the person creating the trust, sometimes called the 'settlor' or 'grantor'). The trustee may be the trustor, a family member, a trusted friend or advisor, or a professional trustee. The trustee is responsible for insuring that assets are properly invested and protected, collecting income and interest from the use of the assets, paying debts and obligations arising from administration, and distributing the excess income and interest to the beneficiaries as specified in the trust (generally to the trustor or the trustor's family).

Administration Following the Death of the Trustor

Trust administration at the death of the trustor is the trustee's administration of the assets belonging to the deceased trustor. The trustee is responsible for collecting the trust assets, paying the decedent’s debts and taxes, and distributing the trust assets to the beneficiaries identified in the trust. Trust administration takes place in an informal and private setting without court supervision. For these reasons, it is generally a much quicker and far less costly process than probate.

Basic requirements for Trust Administration Following Death

Each trust is unique and poses unique issues that must be addressed during administration. The following is a list of the general steps that will be taken during trust administration.

  1. Obtain original estate planning documents
  2. Obtain certified copies of Death Certificate
  3. Advise Agencies to immediately stop payment – Social Security, Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal
  4. Retain CPA for tax advice and tax return filing
  5. Request a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS
  6. Open a trustee’s account (or accounts) to receive property, pay bills, etc.
  7. Obtain asset and liability information, including title information
  8. Determine heirs and beneficiaries
  9. Serve Notice of Trustee’s Administration to heirs and beneficiaries
  10. File the original will with the Clerk of the Court
  11. Arrange for transfer of non-trust property (joint tenancy, POD insurance and accounts)
  12. Determine if probate or summary administration is required for non-trust assets
  13. Summary administration of assets utilizing an affidavit or declaration
  14. Initiate probate proceeding, if required
  15. Record Affidavit-Death of Trustee with County Recorder to clear title
  16. File Assessor’s documents: Change in Ownership-Death of Real Property Owner and Parent/Child or other exclusion claim form
  17. Collect and manage trust assets
  18. Handle claims and pay creditors
  19. Liquidate trust property if appropriate
  20. Transfer assets to subtrusts, if required by terms of trust
  21. Transfer assets to beneficiaries and get receipts
  22. File decedent’s personal income tax return
  23. File Estate Tax Return, if required