Every trust is unique to the creator of the trust and has a purpose and intention. The information on this page is specific to California trust law, Trust Administration, and a California Trust Administration Checklist.
There are many types of trusts. The following are just a few types:
- Charitable Remainder
- Special needs
- Revocable living
- Life insurance
Seek Legal & Tax Help
Always consult with an attorney for legal advice regarding legal matters. The attorney can help many things. Among them are:
- Understanding the wills and other related estate plan documents
- Estate administration
- Court proceedings
- Fiduciary duties
- Final distributions
Seek advice from a tax professional that can help with:
- Obtaining a tax identification number
- Estate tax returns
- Income tax returns
- Property tax
- Applicable exclusion amount
- Federal estate tax return
- Capital gain
- Gift tax
- Generation-skipping transfer tax
- Marital Deduction
- IRS forms
The whole trust process is similar to all trusts, however, will vary based upon the size and number of assets.
The tasks mentioned here are specific to California.
When the creator of a living trust dies and you are the successor trustee, an attorney will provide you with a checklist.
After reading the document you will need to decide if you will proceed with the role as trustee. Let the attorney know if you feel you are not qualified or capable of acting as trustee.
Collect and Review:
- Original Will, Trust document, and the Certifications of Trust.
- Get several death certificates.
- Pension statements, the 401k, IRA, annuities, life insurance policies.
- Other documents specific to the deceased person such as military documents or divorce settlements.
- The most recent state and federal income tax returns
- Title of vehicles or vehicle loan documents
- Deeds to real estate
- Bank account and other financial statements
Steps to Take:
- Make a list of all estate assets and expenses.
- Be sure to check safety deposit boxes.
- How the assets titled. Are they accounts held in the name of the trust or in the name of the deceased person?
- Determine if there might be disputes or claims by any heirs.
- Open a trust bank account
- File the original Will and a death certificate with the court within 30 days of death.
- Send notice to beneficiaries and heirs. California probate code section 16061.7 requires the notice gets sent within 60 days of the death of the trustee.
- In most case, the funeral director reports the death.
- Inventory the assets and determine the value
- If the trust owns real property record an affidavit of death of trustee with a death certificate with the county recorder.
- File a claim for reassessment exclusion with the county assessor if real property transfers from a parent to a child to avoid reassessment of the property.
- Determine if any property is subject to probate
- Change title of assets
- Collect on insurance policies, pensions, IRA’s, Annuities
- Keep accurate records of all accounts and accounting.
- Pay expenses and debts of the trust, including creditor claims
- Consult with a tax professional regarding local, state and federal estate tax obligations
- Sell real property or other assets as directed by the document
- Complete trust accounting
- Provide a copy of accounting to beneficiaries
- Distribute property as directed in the document
- Get a receipt for distributed property
- After all trust administration tasks are complete, close the trust
How long does a trustee have to distribute assets in California?
The time it takes will depend on many factors, including the terms and the trust’s assets.
Eligible Trust Benefits to Surviving Family in California
A surviving spouse or a child may be eligible for social security death benefits.
Contact the local office to report a death or apply for survivor’s benefits.
Married couples can shelter estate taxes with a portability election.
The surviving spouse can port over the deceased spouse’s estate tax exclusion. This can only get done if the surviving spouse files a form 706 estate tax return and makes the portability election.
A trustee’s duty in managing the property and administrative duties is to act with prudent care.
Prudent means careful or wise and exercising good judgment.
When selling real property, a trustee is wise to hire a real estate professional who specializes in probate and trust sales.
All trusts are not alike. All real property is not the same. And all real estate agents do not have the specialized knowledge necessary to sell real property held in trust.
- The real estate agent will provide a certified death certificate and certification of trust to the title company.
- There are specific forms that must get used and disclosure exemptions apply when selling trust property.
- Real property transfer taxes get prorated at the close of escrow.
If you need help with matters regarding trust law or trusts in California let us know. We are happy to recommend an attorney or tax professional. An attorney will provide you with a California Trust Administration Checklist.