The Role of Trust Administration Lawyers and How Our Torrance CA Team Could Help You

If you’ve been appointed to serve as a successor trustee, you’ve likely already had conversations with the trustor—the person who established the trust—about what to expect in terms of assets and inheritance conditions. But, even if this isn’t your first time overseeing a trust, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the demands of fulfilling the legacy of a friend or family member.  

Trust administration law firms like The Kavesh, Otis & Minor, Inc. know just how complicated it can be to supervise heirs, assets, and inheritances. However, trust administration is a big part of what we do. Our attorneys have decades of experience administering trusts of varied sizes and complexity, and we know what it takes to preserve the integrity of a trust from start to finish.

You may not need or want an attorney to fill your role, but a trust administration lawyer could provide critical assistance by:

  • Reviewing the trust formation documents and explaining what steps you need to take to fulfill your duties as an administrator
  • Preparing legal paperwork to facilitate the transfer of assets from the decedent’s estate into the trust’s care
  • Performing periodic maintenance to ensure that you’ve kept the trust current on taxes and record-keeping obligations
  • Referring you to management professionals who could help keep volatile or fluctuating assets—like stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency—safe from market pressure
  • Providing an impartial voice and protecting you from allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, by defending the trust from challenges and mediating disputes among the trust’s beneficiaries

No matter how involved you want to be with the trust’s routine administration, retaining the services of an experienced attorney could help preserve the legacy you’ve been entrusted to protect—all while giving you more flexibility in your day-to-day life and, potentially, saving the trust from unnecessary taxes, fees, and fines.

3 Signs You Might Need a Trust Administration Attorney

If you’re committed to serving as a successor trustee, making the decision to get help with the administration isn’t always easy. Here are three big signs that it might be time to consider calling an attorney: 

1. You’ve Never Served as a Successor Trustee Before

The terms of the trust may be clear-cut, but the responsibilities of a successor trustee can be much more complicated than they appear. Outside of having to manage a variety of different assets, you may also need:

  • An intensive understanding of California’s trust, estate, and probate regulations
  • An ability to keep meticulous records and perform advanced accounting operations
  • An awareness of different timeframes and deadlines, from sending notices to heirs to filing tax returns

The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has spent years administering trusts of all different sizes, meaning that our team already has what it takes to administer most trusts—even those that are very large or very complex.

2. You Don’t Know What Assets Are Included in the Trust or How to Manage Them

The trustor should have given you some background on the trust: which assets are already in its possession and what needs to be re-titled upon or after death. However, unless the trust documents were very regularly updated, trust assets are sometimes moved to unexpected places or go missing entirely.

Similarly, certain types of assets can be difficult to handle. If the trust includes commercial properties, stocks, or other varieties of investments, you still have a legal duty to manage them efficiently, even if you don’t know how. Any mistake, no matter how minor, could result in your being financially liable for resulting losses.

The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. could help you take stock of a poorly structured trust or retain control over one that turns out to be far more complex than it may have first seemed.

3. You’re Facing Allegations of Impropriety or Poor Leadership

Successor trustees are entitled to exercise more discretion than estate executors. However, exercising your judgment can come at a cost—especially if the trust’s beneficiaries don’t agree with your decision-making process. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong and are making a good-faith effort to fulfill the trust’s terms and conditions, it’s quite common for heirs to blame any delay on successor trustees.

An experienced Torrance trust administration lawyer could help you avoid discrepancies and push back against unfounded accusations of impropriety.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.