Many people use trusts as part of their estate plans because they can add layers of protection for assets, help prevent assets from going through probate and have terms regarding the usage of the assets. Still, trusts need someone in charge of their administration, and your loved one may have named you as a trustee.
In many cases, trustmakers will name themselves as trustees on revocable trusts, but successor trustees are needed to take over after the trustmakers' deaths. If a loved one named you as a successor trustee, you have many responsibilities ahead of you.
Review estate planning documents
Of course, in order to take on the duties of a trustee, you need to ensure that you are a trustee. Your loved one may have told you about his or her intention to appoint you, but if you did not hear more than that, you need to review the estate planning documents to determine the specifically named trustee or trustees. The Revocable Living Trust agreement, trust amendments and a pour-over will are all important documents to have.
Determining asset value
Before distributing the assets according to the terms of the trust, you will need to understand the value of the decedent's remaining assets. In certain cases, some assets will not pass through the trust because your loved one bequeathed them in other ways, such as through direct beneficiary designation. Still, the value of those assets remains important to the overall value of the estate.
The remaining bills and expenses also need addressing. As the trustee, you may have to make the decision as to whether you need to sell assets in the trust in order to pay those debts and expenses. Additionally, addressing your loved one's final tax obligations and filing a final return may also fall to you to complete. You may even need to file appropriate tax-related documents for the trust itself, if that step applies.
The list goes on
These actions are only a few that you will need to address as the trustee, and as you can see, they come well before even considering distributing assets. As a result, you will likely have a lot on your plate that you may feel overwhelmed handling. Fortunately, you do not have to work alone, and an experienced Illinois attorney can help you through the necessary steps of trust administration.