The Responsibilities of Trustees after a Death

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Revocable living trusts have become one of the most popular testamentary devices in California. There are numerous reasons why individuals choose to execute trusts, including the avoidance of probate fees, the increase in privacy, and the ability for trustees to manage assets during lifetime. While trusts do achieve these and other objectives, they do not eliminate the need for a trustee to properly administer the trust upon the death of the settlor (the person who first executed the trust). Once the settlor passes away, trustees are often in a quandary as to what their duties include. This is not a situation where one should be left in the dark. If trustees fail to observe their numerous responsibilities, this can open the door to a petition to be removed from their position, or worse—personal liability. In this article, we discuss three areas where trustees should be most attentive. However, this is by no means an exhaustive description of trustee duties, and each trust imposes different requirements. In most cases, trustees should consult with an attorney to determine their particular legal duties.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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