Trust Lawyer Near Covina
Many people in Covina believe that having a trust prevents survivors from having to work with an estate planning attorney. This is simply not true.
A large part of the California Probate Code lays the foundation for what must be done properly when administering a trust. From required beneficiary Probate Code notices, to accountings, to the fiduciary duties, being a Successor Trustee should be taken seriously.
For example, let’s say that your widowed mother was smart enough to have a living or “inter vivos” trust drafted. As a result, her property can pass to you and the other beneficiaries without the lengthy and costly process of going to probate court. Now what?
When your mother had a trust drafted, she became both the Trustor (creator) and the Trustee (the person in charge). When she passed away, she is still the Trustor and the person she named becomes the Successor Trustee (the next person in charge). But, what are the duties of this person?
Duties of a Successor Trustee
The Successor Trustee has a fiduciary relationship with the beneficiaries, which means he or she has a duty to act in the best interest of the named beneficiaries. This general duty owed to beneficiaries has various components.
- Duty to Disclose: A Successor Trustee has a duty to let trust beneficiaries know when a trust becomes irrevocable through a required Probate Code notification. The Successor Trustee must disclose a complete copy of the terms of the irrevocable trust to a beneficiary if requested.
- Duty of Care: This person has a duty to follow what the Trustor said regarding distribution of income or principal. He or she also has a duty not to commingle trust funds with personal funds.
- Duty of Loyalty: A Successor Trustee must be completely unselfish and undivided in his/her loyalty to the beneficiaries. This person must avoid self-dealing by not deriving a personal gain in any way from his/her administration of the trust. For example, he or she should not sell himself/herself a piece of real property at a discount solely for their benefit.
Here is a sample Trust Administration checklist
- Manage assets in the trust
- Have all the relevant legal documents
- Safeguard property and assets
- Notify all trust beneficiaries and creditors
- Allocate income to beneficiaries
- Maintain and file appropriate tax return
Bottom Line: Being a Successor Trustee should not be taken lightly. When a person is assigned this responsibility, he or she should consult an attorney to ensure he or she is compliant with California law as a fiduciary.
Our Trust Attorneys in Covina can help you navigate the complicated world of trust administration. By being the Successor Trustee’s attorney, we would protect you to ensure that you properly administer the trust according to California Probate Code.