If your time as a trustee has come, you will be faced with a variety of responsibilities in the near future. As the days, weeks, and months go by, it is imperative that you complete all the necessary tasks at the appropriate time.
You are not expected to get to work the day that the person passes on. However, you don’t want to put this off too long either. Once you have everything in order, once you are ready to take on this responsibility, it is time to get started.
Tip: if for any reason you are lost, if for any reason you have concerns over the steps you are taking, it would be in your best interest to consult with an attorney. This gives you the opportunity to talk through things with somebody who knows exactly what will happen.
In an overall sense, a big part of successful trust administration is based on organization. When you are organized you reduce the risk of something bad happening along the way, such as missing out on an important detail that could impact the way the trust is administered.
Regardless of how simple or complicated the trust may be, there are some things that you absolutely need to do. While this list may be long, there is a silver lining: most of the tasks are simple to complete.
- Obtain death certificates
- Notify the Social Security Administration of the person’s death
- Find and file the will, if there is one, with the probate court
- Identify and contact beneficiaries
- Take inventory of all assets in the trust
- Review any trust investments
- Transfer property into your name, as you are the trustee.
- Have assets appraised
- Make note of any debts and taxes that need to be paid
- Setup a system for keeping accurate, timely records
Some of these tasks won’t take up a lot of your time, but others may require a bit of work on your behalf. Regardless, once you are finished, you will have a better understanding of what’s going on and how to deal with the tasks expected of you in the future.
Communication with Trust Beneficiaries
This is one of the most important steps in the process, as you need to notify beneficiaries early on. There are times when this is not as cut and dry as it should be. For example, the trust may name children in general, not each individual by name. In this case, you will need to do some investigative work while also finding out how the law in your state handles this issue.
It is important to get organized upfront. It is just as important to stay organized as each day passes. If you begin to slack off, there could come a point when confusion sets in and mistakes begin to occur.
This is why it is so important to have a record-keeping system in place. This is not something you will deal with every day of the week, but it definitely comes into play from time to time. If there is ever a question of what happened in the past, you can revisit your records to get a clear answer and provide any proof that may be necessary.
A Big Responsibility
When it comes to trust administration, there is no way around the fact that this is a huge responsibility. You have a lot on your plate, and you need to handle anything and everything that comes your way. This starts with being prepared and ends with remaining organized from start to finish.
By doing so, you will learn more about all aspects of estate planning and administration. This is a great way to expand your knowledge base. It is also a great way to ask questions that are specific to your situation.