I’m an Estate Trustee – What Do I Do?

How to be an Estate Trustee and What You Must KnowThis article offers a brief overview of the Trustee’s Duties as it pertains to the administration of an estate. Ok, so you have just been asked to become someone’s trustee or, upon the death of a friend or family member, have been reminded that you are one! What next?

It is important to know some of the most immediate things you will be required to do.


14 Key Duties of an Estate Trustee

  1. Take possession of all of the trust assets
  2. Send notices to various entities and the beneficiaries of the trust estate
  3. Decide whether or not to sell/liquidate estate assets
  4. Set up an estate bank account using with the Identification Number you receive from the IRS
  5. Pay all funeral bills and/or reimburse the person who paid
  6. Pay debts and expenses of the Estate (excluding any secured debts)
  7. Collect all dividends, interest, and other income
  8. Deposit the proceeds of all income in an estate account
  9. Keep an account of all receipts and disbursements
  10. Prepare the accounting, and send it to the beneficiaries
  11. Keep the estate property properly insured
  12. File all tax returns and pay all taxes for the decedent and the trust
  13. Distribute the trust estate to the beneficiaries as set forth in the trust document
  14. See Your Attorney!

There are many things which must be done after a Settlor dies; several of which fall to the Attorney. In the Trust Administration area of our website, there is a Valuable List of things you must remember to have handled ASAP.


Yes! You CAN be a Successful Estate Trustee

You are fully up to the task! Simply look at this as a series of tasks that need to be addressed. Lean on friends and family members for emotional support along the way, remember to laugh (it’s ok, and will help to relieve some stress), and seek professional legal help.

As a Trust and Estate Attorney I can say, we have seen it all. Call a trusted and experienced professional in your area; one with expertise in the area of trust administration.  She or he will know the best order for you to tackle the above list and can provide specific assistance in obtaining the forms or preparing the documentation you’ll require.  The attorney typically handles most of the tasks outlined above.


One Question Every Estate Trustee Should Ask

Ask your attorney if there is compensation for your time as Trustee! There often is. Executing your duties as a Trustee for a trust estate takes time. Almost without exception, compensation is available to the trustee.  It’s ok to ask! Really! Whoever designated you as trustee did not want this to be an undue burden on you… They simply trusted you implicitly with their estate and would want you to be reasonably compensated for your time.

Please note: This is an overview only, and 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 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!


estate_planning_living_trust_preparation_losgatos_Diane M. Brown, Esq.
Working every day to keep my clients out of court!
It’s your money… Let’s keep it that way!
Call 408-364-1234



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.

Photo Credit: Diane Brown’s photo by Lisa Whalen and a special thank you to Corbis via the Microsoft Image Library for the use of additional images found in this blog post.

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