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What Are My Responsibilities As Successor Trustee?

When a trust has been established and the trustor (the person who sets up the trust) has either died or is unable to manage their own affairs, the successor trustee assumes control of the trust and its assets. Your responsibilities include the following, among others:

  • Obtaining death certificates
  • Notifying Social Security Administration and other government agencies
  • Notifying trust beneficiaries
  • Inventorying trust assets
  • Appraising trust assets
  • Reviewing trust investments
  • Paying debts
  • Record keeping

At all times, you must act in the best interests of all the trust beneficiaries as if you were a beneficiary yourself. (The successor trustee may or may not be a beneficiary of the trust.) This is called a fiduciary duty and the responsibilities are both wide and deep.

Am I Required To Hire An Attorney?

While some people feel they can ‘do it on their own’, it’s important to note that certain statutes of limitations for liability related to trust administration differ depending on when and how the successor trustee completes certain responsibilities. We can help you navigate the challenge of efficiently administering the trust while helping to protect you from liability.

As trust administration attorneys, we work closely with you to make sure that you’re handling of all aspects of the trust is in compliance with California law. Seemingly minor details can expose you to liability down the road. There are many things that you must do yourself as the successor trustee, but we are with you every step of the way, advising, counseling and listening.

How Long Does Trust Administration Take?

The length of the trust administration process depends entirely on the terms of the trust itself. If the trust is to continue for some time (for example, to support minor children), then there are likely to be monthly and annual duties that will continue until the trust is fully disbursed.

If the trust terms are for a straightforward distribution of trust assets, then the process usually takes 4-6 months.