If you are taking responsibility as successor trustee of a living trust, you might be stressing out and feeling overwhelmed. Thankfully, you are generally not expected to get to work on day one. There is generally a period of time for families to grieve and decide what to do about memorial services. However, within a few weeks you should start collecting important information, documents and bills in preparation for administering assets. Here is an overview of your core responsibilities and duties within the first few months of being a trustee.
You will need to start by gathering important information and assets. Here are some of the main duties you should be prepared to do:
- Get multiple copies of the death certificate.
- Notify the Department of Health and Social Security Administration.
- Identify and notify trust beneficiaries.
- Inventory trust assets.
- Review trust investments.
- Get assets appraised.
Relieve beneficiary concerns
In many cases, beneficiaries are confused about how the trust administration process works. They may be concerned about their lack of input and control. Beneficiaries may get fearful or paranoid even if you are doing everything technically correctly. Be consistent and communicate with beneficiaries to relieve their anxieties and reduce the chances of trust disputes. Do your best to inform them of your role, answer their questions and be transparent about the administration assets.
These tips will help you get through the first stages of being a trustee. If there are significant assets or it is an ongoing trust for children, there might be more complications involved and you will have long-term responsibilities. For help and advice regarding your role as trustee, contact an estate planning attorney.