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What You Need to Know About Post-death Trust Administration in California

The trustee manages and distributes trust assets in post-death trust administration in California. A trustee has fiduciary duties to administer the trust according to the trust’s terms and California law. The trustee assumes personally liable to beneficiaries of the trust for any breach of his or her fiduciary duties.

A trustee’s duties will vary depending on the terms of the trust and the case circumstances. Contact Mark W. Bidwell by phone at 714-846-2888 or by email to to review your situation and estimate costs.

Common duties in in post-death trust administration in California

Trustees have the duty to notify beneficiaries and heirs of the settlor’s death and of their right to receive a copy of the trust. This duty is often overlooked. It is important. Notice creates a deadline for beneficiaries to challenge the trust’s distributions.

The trustee also has the duty to identify and value all of the assets of the trust. Once assets are identified, the trustee must maintain detailed records of all trust income and expenses. The trustee also provides periodic accountings to the beneficiaries.

Another duty is to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). An EIN is a unique nine-digit number issued by the IRS. An EIN is similar to a Social Security number for an individual. The EIN allows the trustee to transfer the decedent’s bank accounts into a new account controlled by the trustee. To control real property, the trustee prepares and records an affidavit of death.

Once assets are controlled, the trustee can pay any just debts of the settlor, file tax returns, and pay taxes due. Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the trustee can distribute the trust assets to the beneficiaries. After all, assets have been distributed, and all debts and taxes have been paid, the trust is terminated.

California Probate Code in post-death trust administration in California

Notice to Beneficiaries and Heirs (California Probate Code Section 16061.7): This section requires the trustee to provide notice of the settlor’s death and the trust’s existence to all beneficiaries and heirs. The notice must include certain information, such as the trustee’s identity and the right to request a copy of the trust.

Administer Trust (California Probate Code Section 16000): This section establishes the trustee’s duty to administer the trust according to its terms and for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

Take Contol (California Probate Code Section 16006): The trustee must control and preserve the trust property.

Duty of Loyalty (California Probate Code Section 16002): This section requires the trustee to administer the trust solely in the interest of the beneficiaries and to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Provide Accounts (California Probate Code Sections 16062 and 16063): These sections provide that the trustee shall account at least annually and at the trust’s termination. An account contains the following. A statement of receipts and disbursements of principal and income.  A statement of the assets and liabilities of the trust.