Conflict-Free Trust Administration Services in Los Angeles
If you have been named to serve as Trustee of a Trust, the law imposes on you a number of fiduciary duties. This means that you have the legal obligation to perform certain tasks and adhere to certain deadlines for the benefit of the Trust Beneficiaries and as required by various government agencies. Failure to fulfill these obligations in a timely manner could result in serious legal consequences and possibly economic loss to the Trust. Do not take this nomination lightly – failure to take action can have very negative consequences and expose you to personal liability. We urge you to consult with an Attorney in the event you learn that you are named to serve as Trustee. Our Firm is well-equipped to guide you through the Trust administration process, help you fulfill your legal duties as Trustee, and protect you from liability.
What Are the Duties of a Trustee?
Click here to see the main duties of the Trustee under the California Probate Code.
Some of these responsibilities are relatively straightforward, while others are more nuanced. With our attorney's guidance, you can make sound legal and financial decisions that carry out the terms of the Trust, advance the best interests of the Beneficiaries, and comply with tax and administrative deadlines.
Even Trustees with the best of intentions may find themselves facing personal liability because of inadvertent missteps, or due to failure to act altogether. Serving as Trustee is not self-intuitive; if Trustees don't not fully understand their responsibilities or the terms of the Trust, they may be found in breach of their duties and financially penalized by the court.
Are you named a Beneficiary of a Trust? We can advance your best interests and make sure you understand your rights and entitlements under the terms of the Trust. If you need to dispute the terms of the Trust, hold a Trustee accountable for failure to administer the Trust, for holding back information about the Trust or its property, or for failure to present a Trust accounting to you, contact us today to discuss your options.
What is a Heggstad Petition?
Attorneys file a Heggstad Petition with Probate Court seeking a court order to have property transferred into the Trust after the trust creator's death. Essentially, where a person establishes a living trust, but omits to title certain property in the trust, at their death such property becomes a part of their probate estate. The above mentioned Pour Over Will, together with an Assignment of Property to the Trust (that generally accompanies a Living Trust) would permit the Probate Court to consider issuing an Order that the property can be transferred into the Trust without having to Probate the Pour Over Will. A Heggstad Petition is a "probate shortcut" but can only be a winning Heggstad Petition when certain very specific elements are met. Having your estate plan professionally prepared by an Attorney generally ensures that all such elements are in place and your property never goes through probate, even if you don't title it into your trust. A Heggstad Petition is granted at the discretion of the Court. Our Attorney has years of experience with winning Heggstad Petitions and stands at the ready to counsel you in this regard.
Why do I need a Will if I am setting up a Trust?
The Trust can only govern the property you TRANSFER in the name of your trust during your life. If some (or all) of your property remains in your individual name at death, the Trustee has no access to it - because such property defaults to your Probate Estate, and is governed by the terms of a Will (or if no Will is left - by the laws of intestate succession of the California Probate Code). To ensure your "probate estate" is distributed as part of your living Trust after you die, it is necessary to also sign a Will named a "Pour Over Will." It is named so because by its terms, it "Pours" into your living trust any property which you did not transfer in trust during your life yourself. It does so by naming your Trust as the SOLE BENEFICIARY of the Will. The Pour Over Will is the safety net that ensures that all of your assets are distributed as per the terms of your living Trust.