When a trust-maker dies, the trust may continue or it may terminate, depending entirely on the terms of the trust. Some trusts are set up so that when the trust-maker dies, everything is distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries, after which time the trust terminates. Other trusts are set up to distribute assets to beneficiaries over a period of time after the Trustor dies.
How Long After The Trust-Maker Dies Does The Trustee Have To Settle The Trust?
There is no set length of time by which all trustees must settle all trusts. However, individual trusts usually dictate when and how the trust should be settled. This can include a deadline by which the trustee must settle the trust in question. If a trust stipulates that settlement should occur immediately with no specific deadline, best practices are for the trustee to begin settling the trust within 60 days.
How Long After The Trust-Maker Dies Does The Trustee Have To Contact The Beneficiaries?
There is no set time within which all trustees must contact all beneficiaries. However, as a matter of courtesy and best practices, trustees should contact beneficiaries as soon as they can, ideally within 60-90 days of the trust-maker’s death.
Do You Need A Lawyer To Settle A Trust?
The short answer to that question is no, a lawyer is not required under any law to settle a trust. However, most trusts have complicated beneficiary terms and are subject to equally complicated rules. Therefore, it is usually beneficial to have an attorney involved who can understand all the standards, rules, and procedures that dictate when and how the trust should be settled. This is especially true if the trust involves a transfer of land, which almost always requires an attorney to execute properly.
What Information Are Trust Beneficiaries Entitled To?
When trusts are prepared, the parties involved also prepare a separate document called an abstract. This is a very short version of the primary terms of the trust, which leaves out certain details such as what is in the trust and who the beneficiaries are. It usually includes:
- The name of the trustee
- The date the trust was certified (as well as any changes from previous versions of the trust), and;
- In a revocable trust, the people who are allowed to revoke it.
The abstract is the only information that a beneficiary is legally entitled to.
What Are My Responsibilities As A Successor Trustee?
As a successor trustee, you have the highest possible degree of responsibility over the trust. You have a fiduciary duty to carry out the terms of the trust exactly as they are written. You cannot unilaterally change any terms of the trust or simply do things as you think they should be done. The trust document tells you exactly what to do and how to do it, and it is your duty to carry that out in as efficient a manner as you can.
What Is The Difference Between A Trustee And An Executor When It Comes To Settling A Trust?
“Executor” is actually an outdated term. Those who were formerly called “executors” are now called “personal representatives.”
The main difference between a personal representative and a trustee is the document they are responsible for. Namely, a personal representative is responsible for carrying out the terms of a last will and testament, while a successor-trustee is responsible for carrying out the terms of a trust.
However, in instances where a trust is created, the last will and testament is usually added as a sort of pour-over from the trust. In these cases, the trustee of the trust and the personal representative of the pour-over will are usually the same person.
What Are Some Problems Trustees May Face In Administering A Trust Without The Guidance Of Legal Counsel?
Trustees working without legal counsel face a number of potential problems and difficulties. For one, it is often difficult for them to locate and notify beneficiaries. It is also often difficult to ensure that transfer documents are executed properly and all transfers go on as stipulated. Another common problem is keeping accurate, proper, and current accounting records, which are necessary to account for what happens in the trust. Keeping accurate and current records is of vital importance, which is often not properly understood by trustees.
Many problems can arise from these common issues, as well as many other issues that trustees (especially those who are not legally trained) may face when attempting to settle a trust without legal guidance. This is why it is highly recommended that trustees consult with a knowledgeable estate attorney, and/or an estate-informed CPA.
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