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How Long for final distribution of estate assets
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How Long to Distribute Trust Assets?

Most Trusts take 12 months to 18 months to settle and distribute assets to the beneficiaries and heirs. What determines how long a Trustee takes will depend on the complexity of the estate where properties and other assets may have to be bought or sold before distribution to the Beneficiaries. If, however, you have not received updates and feel lack of transparency read on.  You may be up against a deadline.


Living Trust Distribution Time Limit



How long does it take to settle an estate for the final distribution of estate assets

First and foremost, Trust distributions of assets to beneficiaries take time due to meeting tax liabilities, debtor liabilities, and so forth in the state of California.

So is there a living trust distribution time limit?

Well, you see, if the Trustee distributes any assets (partial distribution of inheritance) “before” a complete transparent trust administration process, it can be construed as a breach of fiduciary duty. If the Trustee violates their fiduciary duty, they can be sued civilly and can be considered a form of embezzlement. So with that said, what is an average time to distribute trust assets? The average time to distribute trust assets ranges from 12 months to 18 months.  

Why does it take so long to settle an estate with a Trust to the beneficiaries and heirs?

Initially, when the grantor passes, the Trustee has to jump in and begin doing the initial steps of the trust administration process. Now, depending on how many properties that need distribution, sold, etc.. will determine the inheritance distribution timeframe.

So as a Trustee, you have some time to start on the simple aspects such as the following:

  1. Get the death certificate: You will need to get as many original death certificates when settling a trust after death based on how many bank accounts, properties, etc., you should receive the original death certificates.
  2. Contact Social Security if necessary: Many times, a check might need to be returned based on when the SSI check was received, i.e., after the death of the grantor.
  3. Inventory Trust Assets: It takes time to collect all assets, documents, etc., and control them, so no loss of assets occurs.
  4. Review Trust Investments: Depending on the number of investments can complicate matters. Many times a financial advisor may be necessary to understand the ramifications of selling, reinvesting, etc. (learn: can a trustee sell property to himself)
  5. Set up a Record-keeping system: Setting up bookkeeping is the foundation of the trust administration process.  
  6. Identify all beneficiaries and heirs: To add to the time, the Trustee will need to contact the heirs and beneficiaries as to the status of the Trust process. There is a reasonable time frame; the Trustee should get back with the Beneficiary with answers.

The above list is just a preview of the full breadth of steps of an accurately complete trust administration process.

Trust and Estate Attorneys- Near Me

Hess-Verdon is in Newport Beach. Currently doing Zoom conference and office meetings. We have 30 years’ experience in estate planning law. We have helped thousands of clients protect their estate, grow their estate, and pass it down to their loved ones through various legal instruments.

Our probate lawyers can help you administer or contest a will. We also have expertise in business law and elder abuse law. Expect personalized services that put you in control. Request a no-obligation case assessment

What if the Trustee has failed to give reasonable updates?

What if the Beneficiary has been waiting for more than 18 months?

If you are the Beneficiary, hopefully, you have been in the loop of the current standings. If not, then, you will need to start by gathering information like the following:

  1. Copy of the Trust
  2. Banking information
  3. Asset updates

Take away: If below 18 months, and you feel lack of transparency, then you may have to protect your legal rights.

Now, a good practice at this point, i.e., 18 months waiting, is to meet with an estate planning lawyer who dedicates themselves in trust litigation. You see, if in fact, you are 18 months, and have no knowledge of breach has occurred, then you are simply in a waiting game. If, however, you have seen warning signs of misappropriation of trust funds, or lack of transparency, you may need to seek counsel.

Take away: Make sure you have already created a dialogue with the Trustee to show the courts you have been “reasonable” in your approach, and now it’s time for full transparency. 

Click here to learn how long can a trust remain open after death.

Can I sue the Trustee of a Trust?

If you are an heir or a Beneficiary, and you feel there has been a mishandling of the trust assets, it’s imperative to seek legal counsel.

Now, as a beneficiary, you have to be reasonable for allowing the Trustee to meet timeframes, etc.

For example: Within 60 days after taking the responsibility of the Trust, the Trustee shall give notice to the qualified beneficiaries of the acceptance and their full name and address of the Trustee. 

Within 60 days once the Trustee requires knowledge of the creation of the irrevocable Trust, whether they learned it by the death of the settlor or any other means, the Trustee shall give notice of the identity of the settlor, a right to request a copy of the trust instrument, and the right to an accounting. 

Now, if the Trustee feels they have been reasonable and have been meeting the objectives of the Trustee, you will need to go to court to prove the breach of fiduciary duty.

How to Request an accounting of an estate

If you believe the Trustee of the family trust has mismanaged funds, assets, etc., you will need to consult an estate planning attorney who focuses primarily on trust and estate litigation.  

Here are some questions that a Hess-Verdon Attorney will ask you:

Do you have a copy of the Trust? Was it received within the last six months?

Have you requested bank records, asset valuations? Is everything written and dated?

Are there any in Terrorem clauses?

When was the Trust created?

Was there theft from the estate before inventory?

Was the grantor in the right mind when creating a Trust? Was there dementia when the Trust was created?

Are you receiving updates from the Trustee?

What makes you think there is Misappropriation of Trust funds?

The above questions are just a few questions a Hess-Verdon attorney will ask. 

Now, we understand this is a trying time, especially that the grantor has just passed away and including fraudulent acts for favoring the Trustee and not the beneficiaries.


Hess-Verdon is ready to help you today.

How Long Does A Trustee Have To Distribute Assets? Options?

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Dixie Fisher

Client Since 1994

How Long Does A Trustee Have To Distribute Assets? Options?

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Client Since 2006

Meet the Hess-Verdon Law Firm Serving Southern California Residents

Located in Southern California, Newport Beach.
With over 30+ years of law, 3000+ clients throughout our tenure,
you can receive in-depth legal counsel today.

Contact us here!

Jillyn Hess-Verdon

Managing Partner

R. Kurt Ketchum



Blaine M. Brown

Associate Attorney

Ryan W. Young

Senior Litigation Attorney

Meet the Hess-Verdon Law Firm Serving Southern California Residents

Located in Southern California, Newport Beach.
With over 30+ years of law, 1500+ clients throughout our tenure,
you can receive in-depth legal counsel today.

Contact us here!

Jillyn Hess-Verdon

Managing Partner

R. Kurt Ketchum

Associate Attorney

Blaine M. Brown

Associate Attorney

Ryan W. Young

Associate Attorney