Trusts are immensely useful estate planning documents. In many cases, individuals utilize this planning tool in an effort to better protect their assets or to ensure that surviving loved ones will use the assets in a specific way or at a specific age. Though trusts do not use an executor like a will does, someone still has the responsibility of administering the trust properly.
Your family member may have named you as the successor trustee to take over after his or her death. If so, you have many obligations when it comes to addressing the funds in the trust. It can be complicated, but before you feel out of your element, you may want to understand some basic steps to trust administration.
As the trustee, you will certainly need to understand what the trust contains, but you will also need to know whether your loved one created a pour-over will. The purpose of this document is to ensure that any property not included in the trust at the time of the person’s death passes into, or pours over to, the trust. These assets will still need to go through the probate process before going into the trust. You may also need other documents relating to the decedent’s financial affairs and property.
The terms of the trust and other information included in it will play major parts in your administration of the trust. The decedent may have included funeral instructions, specific bequests for individual beneficiaries, instructions for personal items and names of successor trustees like you. You may also need to make sure that the necessary signatures are on the document, like those of your loved one, witnesses and Notary Public. Missing information could potentially render the trust invalid.
Carrying out trust administration can prove complicated, and as a trustee, you have a fiduciary duty to ensure that the administration is carried out correctly. You may worry about making mistakes or facing conflict as you attend to this obligation, and such concerns are warranted because you likely do not have extensive legal knowledge when it comes to completing these proceedings.
To put your worries more at ease, you may want to enlist the help of a legal professional. A Nevada attorney experienced in probate proceedings, trust administration and other aspects of settling estates could provide you with important information about your duties and how to complete the process effectively.