Need Help with Trust Administration? We Can Help You Fulfill Your Fiduciary Duty
At Collins Law Group APC, we are proud to offer trust administration services to clients in the greater Los Angeles area who are seeking dedicated legal counsel. We know how stressful and time consuming it can be to undertake the Successor Trustee position and to comply with the required duties and obligations. We are available to provide you with superior, practical and personalized advice at every step during the Trust Administration process.
If you have been named as the Successor Trustee of a Trust and have questions or concerns regarding the Trust Administration process, we encourage you to contact our Founding and Managing Attorney Caprice L. Collins who has been helping clients to successfully understand, assume and complete their trustee responsibilities since 2003. She has dedicated her career to providing Estate Planning and Trust Administration services to clients throughout the Los Angeles area.
Why People Include Trusts in Estate Plans
A trust is a legal agreement that designates a fiduciary, commonly known as the “Successor Trustee”, with specific instructions to manage an owner’s assets upon death or incapacity for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. Although a person can leave assets to their loved ones within a Will, a lengthy and costly probate process in the Superior Court will be required for the distribution of the estate to the intended beneficiaries.
People usually establish Trusts in order to avoid probate and will appoint a trusted individual, the Successor Trustee to have legal authority over their property, quickly pay debts and to distribute their assets to the designated beneficiaries in the manner requested in the agreement.
What Are the Duties of a Trustee in California?
If you have been named to serve as the Trustee of a Trust, it is a sign that a family member or friend had “trust” in your ‘decision making’ in order to make you responsible for them. The law imposes on you a number of fiduciary duties, meaning you have the authority and legal obligation to perform various tasks for the benefit of the Trust Beneficiaries. The failure to fulfill these obligations in a timely manner could result in serious legal consequences and monetary damages. Do not take this responsibility lightly—failure to properly perform your duties can have very negative consequences.
We urge you to immediately consult with the Collins Law Group APC when you learn that you are named as a Successor Trustee. Our team is well-equipped to guide you through the Trust administration process, help you fulfill your legal duties and protect you from liability. Even Trustees with the best of intentions may find themselves facing liability because of inadvertent missteps. They might simply misunderstand their responsibilities or the terms of the trust. With our Team’s guidance, you can make sound legal and financial decisions that carry out the terms of Trust and avoid unnecessary conflict with the beneficiaries.
What are the Legal Responsibilities of Trustees in California?
Successor Trustees are bound by certain laws, procedural guidelines and time deadlines to carry out their responsibilities. They must prepare various legal documents, timely file proper tax returns, prepare and serve formal Trust accountings upon the beneficiaries and accomplish the formal transfer of assets to the Trust beneficiaries.
What Does a Trust Administrator Do in California?
Immediately following the death of Trustor/Owner of the Trust Assets, the following responsibilities of a Successor Trustee will come into effect:
- Sending a formal notice to each beneficiary/heir shortly after the Trustor’s death that includes specific notices and warning to the recipients of this notice
- Collecting, managing, investing and distributing assets appropriately and keeping clear records of your decisions and investments
- Assessing the value of a trust’s assets
- Meeting the IRS deadlines for tax returns
- Paying routine administration expenses out of the trust estate (i.e., taxes, accountant’s and attorney’s fees)
- Keeping all Trust beneficiaries informed of the Trust Administration process.
- Evaluating bills and claims and paying creditors on behalf of the deceased
- Hiring professionals to assist in the administration process in various areas (i.e. legal, tax, accounting, valuation, maintenance and/or sale of assets, etc.)
- Tracking the Successor Trustee’s time for payment of his/her reasonable trustee’s fees
- Preparing and serving formal Trust accountings upon the Trust Beneficiaries
- Managing account for underage or Special Needs beneficiaries
- Distributing or managing properties according to the Trust terms
It is recommended that the Successor Trustees seek legal advice from an experienced Trust Administration attorney in order to properly fulfill their duties and obligations and to avoid possible personal liability for failure to do so. The Collins Law Group APC is here to help!
California Trust Administration FAQS
As a Successor Trustee, it is an honor to have been chosen for this important responsibility as it signifies the confidence that the Trustor had in you to be honest, fair and hard working in carrying out your duties. However, the position can be difficult to handle with many emotions happening at the same time that a lot of tasks need to be completed in a timely manner. Below are some frequently asked questions that can provide you with basic information.
How long does it take to settle a trust after the owner’s death?
Depending on the trust terms, locating the beneficiaries and other factors it can take from months to year. The exact length of time will depend on your unique case. You can consult with the Collins Law Group APC to learn more.
Do you need an Attorney to administer a Trust?
While it is not required that you have an attorney to help you, it can alleviate a lot of stress that comes with administering a trust. As a trustee, you have legal obligations to fulfill. By working with Appraisers, Attorneys, Accountants, Financial Advisors and Realtors, the trustee can transfer various legal obligations to licensed professionals with substantial experience working on these matters and who have Errors and Omissions insurance coverage for their actions.
You may be overwhelmed with the work while grieving the loss of a loved one. However, numerous deadlines need to be met with government agencies, the beneficiaries and creditors. Having the Collins Law Group APC help to make it as smooth as possible can significantly reduce the stress and help avoid possible errors.
Can I be held personally liable for Trust Administration errors?
Yes. You may be liable for any mismanagement or errors that may occur. To protect yourself seek guidance from Collins Law Group APC. We can help you make sure that you don’t make any mistakes.
What does Trust Administration cost the estate in CA?
Great question. The proper answer is it depends on the terms of the trust, the size of the estate, the property to be administered, the various challenges the Trustee must handle during the process and the cost of professionals to assist in the process.
First of all, this expense is paid for by using Trust funds not funds of the Successor Trustee. The Trustee sometimes needs to advance funds to start the process with reimbursement coming within a reasonable time thereafter directly from the trust.
Once you have a consultation with the Collins Law Group APC, you can get an estimate of costs to be incurred to complete the Administration. It is general rule of thumb that both Attorney’s fees and the Trustee’s fee (charged by the Successor trustee for their services) for each person will be 1-2% of the value of the estate.
When is it a Bad Idea to Serve as a Successor Trustee?
There are several scenarios in which you are best advised to use trust funds to hire an attorney to assist in the Trust Administration process:
- You have bad or difficult relationships with the trust beneficiaries which have involved excessive arguing causing you problems when acting as the Trustee.
- If lawsuits have been filed or threatened by a beneficiary that will cause a reduction in the value of the trust. You will have the duty to protect the trust
- If you need referral to other experienced professionals such as Appraisers, Accountants, Realtors, Financial Advisors and others to help in the process
- You are attempting to co-manage the trust with another Trustee—having an experienced team can help to mediate decisions between the Trustees
If you hire the Collins Law Group APC to assist in the administration process it does not mean that you lose control as a Trustee. It means that you can receive professional help and guidance from an experienced firm and avoid making errors that could result in your personal liability for damages. It also means that you will not need to invest an excessive amount of time to meet your fiduciary duties as a Trustee.
Conflict-Free Trust Administration Services in Los Angeles
The Collins Law Group APC can assist a Successor Trustee with handling all beneficiaries impartially and avoiding possible conflicts due to poor personal relationships among family members. We can also avoid unnecessary conflicts of interest or unintended self-dealing which can pose personal liability to the trustee. What you don’t know can hurt you—greatly.
Careful Legal Guidance for Trustees from Collins Law Group APC
If you have questions or concerns regarding Trust Administration, we encourage you to contact the Founding and Managing Attorney Caprice L. Collins who has been helping trustees to successfully understand, assume and complete their trust responsibilities since 2003. She has dedicated her career to providing Estate Planning and Trust Administration services to clients throughout the Los Angeles area. Her team understands how stressful and challenging that it can be to assume the Successor Trustee position, and to comply with the required duties and obligations. We will provide you with practical legal advice based on our years of experience with numerous satisfied clients and will assist at every possible step during the Trust Administration process. We have helped a multitude of clients settle their affairs and the affairs of family members with emphasis given to promoting family unity and maintaining valuable family legacies. Attorney Collins is a popular speaker on “Wills, Living Trusts and Why Black Wealth Matters and What to Do About it.” Call us at (310) 677-9787 or click here to send an email.
Los Angeles Attorney Caprice L. Collins is the Founding and Managing Attorney of Collins Law Group APC located in Inglewood, California. She is a Harvard Law school graduate with 40 years of experience in serving individuals and businesses in Los Angeles County.Attorney Collins focuses her practice on Estate, Business and Special Needs Planning and Tax Administration. She is the first Black member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, a national association promoting legal excellence in Estate Planning.
In order to fully serve her clients and their needs, she has invested significant effort to qualify as a licensed Financial Advisor (Collins Financial Group), an insurance agent and a CA real estate broker. Over the last 40 years, Attorney Collins has been honored by many prominent institutions for her outstanding service to her clients in the Greater Los Angeles area and her free education to generations of the L.A. Black community about Estate and Financial Planning. She also attained a superb AVVO client rating of 10.0 making her AVVO’s “Top Attorney” in Estate Planning. She has also been designated a “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine for 10 years. Caprice is a second generation Angeleno having graduated from Dorsey High School and University of California at Irvine. She is passionate about helping families plan to maintain and build wealth for multiple generations.
At the Collins Law Group APC, we understand that it can be overwhelming to administer a trust on your own. Regardless of your familiarity with this role, we can help trustees deal with debts, tax matters, property distribution and conflicts of interest. By relying on us, you’ll have greater confidence that the Trust is being properly managed and in accordance with California laws and local regulations.