A trust is a commonly used estate planning tool. When a person who has a trust dies, the trust must be administered. Trust administration is the process by which trust property is transferred according to the terms of the trust after the death of a grantor.

Like a Last Will and Testament, a trust specifies how property will be distributed. But unlike a Will, property can be held in a trust during the lifetime of the grantor. When the grantor dies, a successor trustee previously designated by the grantor administers the trust and ensures that the trust assets are transferred to the trust beneficiaries according to the grantor’s wishes.

Trust administration is similar to probate in that it is the process by which assets are transferred after someone has died. However, many people use a trust as part of their estate planning precisely because assets placed in a trust do not go through probate court approval. This means that trusts are often more complicated than probate.

Parties to a Trust

There are three parties to a trust: the trust-maker (known as the grantor, settlor, or trustor), the trustee, and the beneficiaries. The grantor is the person who creates the trust. The trustee holds trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are the people for whom trust assets are being held.

In some cases, the grantor, trustee, and beneficiaries are all the same person. But when the grantor dies, a successor trustee is appointed to carry out the grantor’s wishes, according to the terms of the trust and for the trust beneficiaries.

Duties of a Successor Trustee

If you were named as a successor trustee and need to administer a trust, there are a number of tasks you may be called upon to do in your role as trustee. These may include:

  • Taking and maintaining an inventory of the trust assets
  • Managing trust assets
  • Maintaining an inventory of trust assets
  • Selling trust property
  • Paying trust debts
  • Investing trust assets
  • Notifying beneficiaries and heirs of the death of the grantor
  • Obtaining a Tax ID number for the trust
  • Opening a bank account for the trust
  • Notifying banks of the death of the grantor and of the identity of the successor trustee
  • Notifying creditors
  • Opening an estate for any assets that do not pass through the trust
  • Filing tax returns
  • Collecting money owed to the trust
  • Paying the last expenses of the grantor
  • Determining the status of the decedent’s retirement accounts
  • Valuing trust property, including real estate and business interests
  • Evaluating and paying on-going trust administration expenses
  • Distributing assets to trust beneficiaries

Fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone. An experienced trust administration attorney can handle much of this process, answer your questions, and ensure that you comply with applicable laws and filing deadlines.

Overview of Trust Administration

While no two trusts are alike, there are common steps that a trustee typically must take to administer a trust.

  1. Notice to Beneficiaries and Heirs. Trust administration begins by notifying the trust beneficiaries and the heirs of the decedent that the trust became irrevocable upon the death of the grantor.
  2. Transfer Title in Real Property. If the trust holds real property, the successor trustee must vest title in the name of the successor trustee so the property can be managed, sold, or distributed.
  3. Inventory Other Trust Assets. If the trust holds other assets, such as bank or retirement accounts, those assets must also be transferred to the name of the successor trustee for management and distribution.
  4. Pay Debts and Taxes. The trustee must pay any applicable debts and taxes owed by the trust and decedent.
  5. Accounting. A successor trustee must prepare an accounting of their activities in administering the trust.
  6. Distribution. Once assets have been collected, debts have been paid, and the accounting has been completed, the successor trustee will distribute the remaining trust assets.

Trust administration can be a complex and time-consuming process, and no two trusts are ever the same. An experienced Nevada estate planning and trusts attorney can help you with administration of the trust, and ensure that the trust is administered properly and in accordance with Nevada laws.

The Vander Laan Law Firm: Your Partner in Planning

If you have been named as a trustee, you may have questions. Natalia Vander Laan is an experienced Nevada trust administration attorney who can answer them. From her offices in Minden and Carson City, Nevada, she proudly works with people throughout the Carson Valley.

An experienced trust administration attorney can guide you through the trust process, and handle much of the work for you. Learn more about Nevada trust administration attorney Natalia Vander Laan and what makes the Vander Laan Law Firm different from other probate and trust administration attorneys, then contact the Vander Laan Law Firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss how Ms. Vander Laan can help.