As we begin Part 1 of Estate Trustee Administration :101, let’s look at what happens when you get that phone call that says, “As the Trustee of your Aunt What’s-her-name’s estate, I need to inform you that it’s time to do all those things we talked about five years back!”
Wow! There are all sorts of important duties that are part of the administration of an estate. Would you even know where to start? In case you are ever asked to become someone’s trustee or, upon the death of a friend or family member are reminded that you are one, this article will help you get started and ultimately set your mind at ease.
Every Estate Trustee Must Know This
The first thing you want to ask your attorney is if there is compensation for your time as Trustee. If a friend or family member designated you as trustee, they likely did not want this to be done on your own dime. They trusted you implicitly and valued your ability; they would have wanted you to be reasonably compensated for time spent looking after their affairs.
Many estate trustees are surprised and thrilled to find out that most of the time there is remuneration. The truth is that it takes time to handle the duties of a Trustee, and it is a rare instance that compensation is not available. It’s ok to ask about it. The answer is “yes,” nearly all the time!
Estate Trustee – Your 15 Main Duties Are as Follows
- Take possession of all assets of the trust
- Send notices to all entities and beneficiaries of the trust estate
- Decide if you will plan to sell/liquidate estate assets
- Set up an estate bank account – IRS will provide an ID Number
- Pay all funeral bills or reimburse the person/people who paid them
- Pay any debts/expenses of the Estate (excluding secured debts)
- Collect all dividends, interest, and other income
- Deposit the proceeds of that income in the estate account
- Keep a careful accounting of all receipts and disbursements
- Prepare the accounting, and send it to the beneficiaries
- Maintain proper insurance on the estate property
- File all tax returns as related to the estate
- Pay all taxes for the decedent and the trust
- Distribute trust estate to the beneficiaries as set forth in the trust document
- Move #15 to the #1 Spot… See Your Attorney!
As an Estate Trustee Where do I Start?
There are so many things that need to be done after a Settlor dies, several of which fall to the Attorney to do. This list is only covers a few of the duties, please know that there are additional things that do not appear on this list. For that reason, it is really best to make an appointment with your attorney.
If it happens to be the middle of the night and you need to know more information before hitting the hay, the Trust Administration area of our website has a more complete overview of things you’ll want to have handled ASAP. Take a look, read it over, leave a voicemail for your attorney, put a good friend on speed-dial and get a good night’s sleep. You will get through this.
Part 2 – Check back on Tuesday, November 11th when we look at: “What Makes a Successful Estate Trustee?” – Estate Trustee Administration :101- Part 2.
Please note: The information in this post is an overview of what can be expected of an estate trustee. It is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. I encourage you to write down your questions and concerns and reach out to an attorney with extensive experience in living trusts and estate administration.
If you live in San Jose, Peninsula or South Bay Area, feel free to be in touch! I am simply a phone call or email away! You are welcome to print this Free 30 Minute Legal Consultation and use it to get some of your initial questions answered at no charge. I look forward to hearing from you.
This blog contains general information and is not meant to apply to a specific situation. Please seek advice of counsel before proceeding as each case is unique.