Steps to take when you are the successor trustee after death of original trustee

It’s difficult to function following the death of a loved one, who is often the Trustor of a Trust, but there are steps that need to be taken immediately if you are the successor trustee.  While it is usually best to retain an attorney to help you at this stage, here are the actions that must be taken after the Trustor has passed away. Immediately locate and review the Trustor’s Trust and Will. Determine whether the Trustor wanted to be buried or cremated, and order several certified copies of the death certificates. If the Trustor was receiving income from Social Security, notify Social Security of the Trustor’s death and cancel the benefits. If the Trustor was receiving income from PERS, STRS, or any other pension plan, you must notify them and cancel the benefits.  Find out if there is a death benefit payable to a designated beneficiary and, if so, submit a claim. Identify any life insurance policies, annuities, pension plans, or other assets that have designated beneficiaries. Submit claims for benefits as appropriate or notify named beneficiaries of their right to submit claims. If the Trustor’s IRA named the Trust as a designated beneficiary, contact the IRA custodian and provide them with a copy of the trust.  If the Trustor was taking required minimum distributions and their distribution for the year in which they died had not yet been taken, have the beneficiary take this distribution before the end of the year or a penalty may be incurred. Obtain a federal tax identification number (FEIN) for the Trust using IRS form SS-4, and submit IRS form 56 to arrange for all tax correspondence to go to you. Secure the Settlor’s home.  If a third party is living there, either make sure they are paying rent or have them evicted, if necessary.  Review the Trust to determine whether there are any specific instructions regarding the distribution of the contents of the home. Notify the Trust beneficiaries and heirs as required by Probate Code § 16061.7.  Wait at least 120 days after the Notice goes out to the beneficiaries before making any distributions. File the original will with the Superior Court Clerk, even if there is no need to open a case in probate. Locate all assets belonging to the Trust and the Trustor, such as cash, bank accounts, securities, real estate, vehicles, retirement accounts, insurance policies, etc. Determine what...

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Probate Law

Experienced in Probate Law, Anne Marie Healy, Esq. has 15 years practicing in the Orange County court system.  Let Anne Marie Healy and her associates help you in handling your estate needs. Areas of Experience Estate planning Conservatorships Elder Abuse Guardianships Trust administration Wills Trusts Durable Power of Attorney Property...

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