Were you left to fulfill the role of successor trustee? You know you have a lot of responsibilities and duties to make sure your loved one’s trust is carried out, but you may not exactly know where to begin or how to fully accomplish them while limiting liability. For this reason, our Georgia estate planning attorneys want to provide you with this important information about trust administration.
The role of successor trustee can be overwhelming. You most likely have never been in this role before, which can lead to uncertainty and stress. These are normal feelings to experience when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Most successor trustees are typically unprepared for their responsibilities and how to properly administer a trust. Depending on a trust’s complexity, it can cause a successor trustee even more pressure to limit tax liability and make sure the trustee’s wishes are carried out how she wanted them to be.
Certain steps have to be taken immediately after a loved one passes away. A successor trustee needs to change titles of assets and perform other trust administration functions. Here are some steps a successor trustee should take:
- Collect all estate planning documents you can find, which includes trusts, trust amendments and restatements, pour-over wills, asset lists, and property deeds
- Collect all prior estate tax returns and accountings of trust assets
- Weed through the information to find the most current trust and read through it
- Use due diligence to find all mentioned heirs, beneficiaries, and other successor trustees named in the trust
- Make an inventory of all trust assets and values
- Meet with a skilled estate planning attorney to discuss your questions and get legal advice—trust funds can be used to pay a lawyer to assist you with trust administration
Your attorney can help you understand the terms of the trust, your fiduciary duties, and ensure you are in compliance so that you are not exposed to financial liability. An experienced estate planning lawyer will send appropriate creditor notices, prepare the proper forms for each specific deadline, and oversee that the trust assets are divided per the terms of the trust.
Successor trustees should never attempt to administer a trust without legal advice. There are many things that can go wrong along the way. Not only can the right attorney answer your questions and reduce your stress, but a lawyer can reduce your liability by ensuring the right steps are taken. For help administering a trust in Georgia, call a skilled Peachtree City estate planning attorney today at the Law Offices of Shane Smith at (770) 487-8999 for a free consultation.