Trust Administration

When a person dies who has set up a trust (the “settlor”) as an estate planning vehicle, the surviving spouse or named successor trustee is charged with administering the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. A trust avoids probate but it still must be administered after the settlor dies, even if there is a surviving settlor. These administrative duties involve some of the same requirements as a probate: collecting and valuing assets, distributing assets to named beneficiaries, paying the last expenses and taxes of the decedent. There are other duties specific to trusts, namely, following the terms of the trust. For example, if the trust is to be divided into subtrusts at the death of the settlor, either for tax or continuing protection, the trustee must make sure the subtrusts are properly funded as provided in the trust document.