If a loved one dies and has a revocable living trust in place, generally there is no need for any administration through the Probate Court.
Similar to a Probate Administration, administration of a person’s trust after they die follows the same steps, but without the involvement of the Court. Every trust administration is unique, but most involve the following steps:
- The Successor Trustee takes over the trust
- Notice is given to the heirs of the living trust
- Asset of the trust are gathered together and valued
- Debts of the deceased trust owner are paid
- Sales of trust assets may be made
- Estate taxes are paid, if applicable
- Final distribution to the heirs, either outright or in some form of trust
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What happens if someone objects to the Trust?
Rarely, someone objects to a Trust. Similar to a Will, in order to contest a Trust, a person has to have legal “standing to raise objections. This usually occurs when, for example, children are to receive unequal shares of property under the Trust, or when distribution plans change from a prior Trust to a later Trust.
How much does Trust Administration cost? How long does it take?
The cost and duration of trust administration can vary substantially depending on a number of factors such as the value and complexity of the estate, and the quality and completeness of the trust itself. Ambiguities in the drafting of the trust document can require a trip to the Probate Court to have a judge decide what the trust means. Property left out of the trust name at death may also cause a trip to the Probate Court to have the property declared as part of the trust, or even to force the property through the Probate process in order to get it transferred into the trust.
Many of the same steps are taken in trust administration as in Probate administration. However, the steps can be done in the comfort of your attorney’s office and accountant’s office.
With a well-drafted trust, a trust administration can generally be completed in 3-9 months, depending on complexity and issues that may arise during administration. Fees for trust administration are based on a percentage of the size of the estate, and whether or not you are an existing client of the firm. As an alternative, trust administration can be charged on an hourly basis, which is often less expensive.
For handling the estate of a person who has died (i.e. a “Decedent”) without a trust of some kind, i.e. dying “intestate”), my legal fees fall into two categories:
Hourly Fees: My minimum fee for Trust Estate Administration is $5,000.00, regardless of the size of the Trust Estate. I charge an hourly rate of $500.00 per hour for assisting with the administration of a trust that has become irrevocable, either during the lifetime of the original creator of the trust, or after the death of the creator of the trust. Costs such as recording fees, etc., are in addition to my legal fees.
A typical trust administration may take 8 to 20 hours, depending on the complexity of the trust distribution. A fee and cost deposit is made into my Attorney’s Trust Account. Monies will be used or withdrawn from the Attorney’s Trust Account as legal services are performed and costs are incurred in the trust administration.
If you have suffered a loss of a loved one who had an estate plan that used a living trust, I am here to help. I am as close as your telephone, fax, or e-mail, when it comes to scheduling a consultation. I am generally available during office hours, and try to return after-hours calls, faxes and emails by the next business day.
Attorney Robert P. Bergman, Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, assists families in the San Francisco Bay Area with Estate Planning, Special Needs Planning for children and adults, special planning for retirement plan assets, and trust administration.