Trust administration refers to the management of assets within the trust. The trustee is the named individual responsible for trust administration, and holds a higher, fiduciary level of duty to the beneficiaries of the trust.
The administration of a trust once the trust creator (known as the "settlor") dies is similar to the administration of an estate. The successor trustee in many instances is required to perform the same duties as a personal representative, but there is no formal court administration.
Consequently, an attorney's role often becomes one of educating and guiding the trustee through the duties and obligations of serving in this fiduciary capacity. Trust beneficiaries also need to be advised as to the steps required in the administration of a trust and estimated time schedules as to their distributions.
Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, and can include supplemental or special needs trusts. Contact an experienced attorney to discuss trust administration further.
Unfortunately, many trust beneficiaries and successor trustees have been misinformed as to the procedures that are required once the settlor dies. Some of the most common misconceptions are the following:
1. That the assets in the trust are not subject to federal estate taxes.
2. That the assets in the trust can be immediately distributed upon the decedent's demise.
3. That updated appraisals of trust assets are not required and the successor trustee believes that an appraisal of real estate, jewelry and personalty are not needed.
4. That the income generated by trust assets does not have any income tax consequences.
5. That there is no accounting required by the successor trustee to the beneficiaries under the trust.
6. That since there is nothing to do but distribute the assets, the services of an attorney, accountant or CPA should not be required.
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