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Appointment of Successor Trustee. What to know!
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Naming Your Successor Trustee

When you create a revocable living trust, you have the full power of your estate. As long as you are alive, you have the dual roles of grantor and trustee. An essential part of that Trust is determining who will serve as your successor trustee after your death. You should carefully choose someone who is fiscal, responsible, and trustworthy. Since you opt for a living trust, your successor trustee and beneficiaries will avoid the lengthy probate court process.  See Appointment of Co-trustee form

Successor Trustee Roles And Responsibilities

The successor trustee takes control of your Trust beginning at your time of death. The first thing you will need to do is file the appointment of successor trustee form and the acceptance of successor trustee form. Since the Trust is revocable, the successor trustee is empowered with making changes and investment decisions without court oversight. The successor trustee is responsible for safeguarding and administering the Trust to benefit the beneficiaries exclusively. You need to follow the terms of the Trust strictly. Your first step as the successor trustee is to establish yourself as the legal trustee and open a trust bank account. You will need to file a statutory notice of trustee change to obtain a federal taxpayer ID number. Once you have that, the following documentation will allow you to have the assets of the Trust retitled:

  • A statutory notice of change of trustee
  • Certified copy of the death certificate
  • Taxpayer ID number
  • Affidavit of appointment of a successor trustee
  • Certificate of Trust

Review Trust

Carefully review the Trust. If these terms are not clear, your trust lawyer will help you petition the court for instructions. While you will most likely be advised to use your discretion, you need to be careful. Keeping to the Trust’s terms might not please all beneficiaries, but you still should administer the Trust to the grantors’ wishes. This review is an excellent time to look for any improprieties that might serve to invalidate the Trust. Your trust lawyer can be a great asset during this stage.

Notifications To Inheritors

Within 60 days of the grantor’s death, you need to mail notifications to all beneficiaries and heirs they are due to inherit. This mail should include: 

  • A copy of the Trust
  • Your appointment of successor trustee California
  • Certified copy of the death certificate
  • Your complete contact information

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Hess Verdon is in Newport Beach. We have 30 years’ experience in estate planning law. We have helped many clients protect their estate, grow their estate, and pass it down to their loved ones through various legal instruments.

Asset Inventory

You need to inventory and have appraised all assets of the Trust. Consult with experts as to the value of anything you question. You should keep the assets productive. Any investments in the Trust’s name should be low risk with all proceeds transferred into the trust account. If there is real property, you will need to pay appraisal costs from the trust account before listing the property for sale. Informing the beneficiaries of your actions will let them know that you are making sure they are taken care of per the grantors wishes. Your trust lawyer can provide guidance when needed. You then need to liquidate the assets and transfer the money into the bank account. Make sure that you keep a detailed record, complete with receipts, of all assets. Some assets may be left directly to beneficiaries. Since those items are specifically identified in the trust instrument, you can begin to distribute them to their inheritors. 

Identify All Creditors

Identify all of the grantors’ creditors and pay their debts. In many cases, the bills will continue to come in after the grantor dies. You will want to set aside some funds to meet those debts. The funds need to include any taxes the grantor owes. If the Trust takes longer than one year to administer, a tax specialist will need to file a tax return for that year.

Accounting Report

You will need to submit an accounting report to the appropriate courts. You should also share this report with all of the beneficiaries. 

Information will include: 

  • All asset proceeds in detail.
  • Expenses the Trust has paid during the asset inventory and liquidation phase.
  • Payment to creditors. 

Distribution Of Funds

Distribute the funds as to the wishes of the grantor. If the trust instrument divides the estate by percentages, you will pay the beneficiaries according to the percentage guidance. If not, you will have to use discretion to maintain fairness to all of the beneficiaries. 

Seeking Legal Counsel

A trust lawyer can guide you through every aspect of the trust administration process. Early in the process, a trust lawyer can help you with your appointment of successor trustee form for California, your affidavit of appointment of a successor trustee, your acceptance of successor trustee form, and your appointment of successor trustee California. Although a trust administration takes a lot of effort, your trust lawyer can be your greatest asset.

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With over thirty years of experience in successfully handling all types of trust and estate cases, we can rightfully say that we are the best trust litigation attorneys in Orange County. Here at Hess-Verdon &Associates, we are known for our aggressive legal representation, which has helped us obtain our clients’ best outcomes. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff works hard to enforce the rights of a trustee. Let us make your job a bit easier.

Contact us today to discuss your trust litigation case. 

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