As a trustee, you will need to use a variety of different forms. Some of the forms will be for your own record keeping or to ensure you do not overlook critical duties. When dealing with beneficiaries, the trustee should be aware of different types of forms that may be required by law or that are recommended but not required. Trustees also need to complete various federal and state tax forms.
This page provides information on forms, checklists, and guides used by trustees to administer living trusts and other types of estate planning trusts during
Beneficiary Forms Used By Trustees
During administration of the trust, there are several forms the trustee should send each beneficiary, depending on applicable state law and the type of trust involved. These forms may include notices, consents, waivers, receipts, and releases. Sometimes the form is required by state law. In other cases the form is not required but may be used by the trustee to ensure he or she is not held liable for actions taken while administering the trust. For more on the duties of a trustee, refer to our
Trustee Checklist.The trustee may be required to provide certain notifications to beneficiaries and obtain written consent from beneficiaries on certain matters. The laws on this vary from state to state. If the trustee will not provide a
Trust Accounting to beneficiaries, the trustee may need the beneficiaries to sign a waiver.Depending on applicable state law, it may be appropriate for the trustee to have the beneficiary sign a receipt and release before making trust distributions to protect the trustee from claims by the beneficiary after the trust is closed. The trustee should obtain the proper form for each one of these matters and check with an attorney regarding what is legally permissible in the state. Trustees should be very wary of using generic online forms to obtain a consent, waiver or release from a beneficiary. See
Trust Beneficiary Release Forms.
The content of the beneficiary form will vary depending on several factors, including state law, the type of trust, the size of the trust, the type of beneficiary, and other circumstances unique to the trust being administered. For example, a trustee distributing a few thousand dollars will likely require less paperwork be signed by the beneficiary than a trustee distributing several million dollars. Similarly, beneficiary forms in California will generally have different language than beneficiary forms in Florida, due to applicable state statutes. See
Trust Law.Any forms the trustee needs to send to beneficiaries or have signed by them, including notifications, consents, receipts, releases and waivers, should be drafted by an attorney familiar with the trust. Because state laws have different requirements for consents, waivers, and releases to be valid, trustees should consult a
probate lawyer or trust attorney to ensure the beneficiary forms they use will be enforceable.
Forms to Amend a Revocable Trust
While the settlor or grantor is alive, there may be a desire to change the provisions of a revocable trust. If the changes are minor and can be set forth in a few simple paragraphs, the trust may be amended using a
Trust Amendment Form. However, changes you believe to be minor may in fact have major implications for your estate plan. Only an attorney that has reviewed the original trust can determine how the changes should be made.If several changes need to be made to the trust, they are often made by restating the entire Trust Agreement in a new document that shows all changes incorporated into the revised Trust. An example of this type of restatement is shown on our Trust Restatement Form page.To determine which type of form is needed to revise your living trust, you need the advice of an attorney. A lawyer will need to review your estate planning documents and discuss what you are trying to accomplish so they can recommend the exact language and format that should be used. Be aware that if you want to change many different aspects of your trust, it may be necessary to revoke the trust and create a new one.
Successor Trustee Checklist
If you are the successor trustee of a living trust and would like to use Pennyborn.com's free Successor Trustee Checklist for Trust Administration, see for Successor Trustees to print a copy.
Final Trust Distribution Letter
Before closing or dissolving the trust, there are several steps a trustee should complete. One of these steps is sending a letter to the beneficiaries indicating that all distributions have been made from the trust and it will be dissolved. For instructions on how to write a letter to beneficiaries and a sample form letter for the final distribution, go to Trust Distribution Letter.
Certificate of Trust Form
As trustee, there are several reasons you may need a Certification of Trust. For example, you may need to provide this type of trust document when you are transferring property to the trust, selling trust assets or changing title to trust property. See
trust transfer deeds.If a person or company asks for a Certificate of Trust, look at the trust documents you were provided. When the original trust was created, the attorney that drafted the trust may have included a Certification of Trust with the settlor's estate planning documents. If you do not have a Certificate of Trust or you need to modify the one you have to accommodate a request made for a specific transaction, ask your trust attorney to prepare one. For a list of information that is usually contained in this type of trust form, see
Certificate of Trust Form.
Estate Property Form
Many executors and trustees find handling the amount of personal property left by the deceased overwhelming. But keeping an accurate inventory of trust property is one of the most important duties of a trustee. Trustees can be liable for failure to keep accurate records of trust property and safeguard such property. To make the process of sorting, organizing, and distributing the property in the deceased person's estate easier, Pennyborn developed the Estate Property Form. This free estate planning form is available exclusively from Pennyborn.com. To print a copy, see Estate Property Form.
Trust Accounting Form
One area in which a trustee must be careful to avoid any mistakes is fulfilling the duty to inform and report. If you are required to distribute a trust accounting to beneficiaries or others, make sure the report meets all applicable requirements, including state laws. For information on how to prepare a trust accounting, see Trust Accounting Form.
Fiduciary Income Tax Returns
As trustee, you are responsible to file all tax returns due for the trust. This may include filing fiduciary income tax returns on IRS Form 1041. Examples of what must be reported on IRS Form 1041 include income, capital gains, losses, and tax deductions for the trust, as well as income that is received or retained for beneficiaries of the trust but is not distributed to beneficiaries in the applicable tax year. You can obtain a copy of Form 1041, along with instructions for completing the form, from the IRS.Form 1041 is used for filing federal tax returns, but trustees are also responsible for filing any state income tax returns that are due for the trust. For more information on filing tax returns for a trust, see
Schedule K-1 Trust Estate.
Although you can use tax preparation
to file Form 1041, a CPA or other tax professional is recommended, because trust tax returns are often more complex than individual income tax returns. When the trust is closed or terminated, the trustee must file the final fiduciary income tax return.
Understanding Forms Used By Trustees
If you are not sure which forms you need to use for trust administration, get a trust administration guide to learn more about each step in the process. Before using a particular form in your capacity as trustee, you should have a thorough understanding of the paperwork you need to fulfill your duties. Pennyborn.com offers a free Trust Administration Guide on our website. To browse the free guide, see how to
administer a trust. If you need more help deciding which forms to use, consult an attorney familiar with the trust.
Tax ID Number For The Trust
Another form successor trustees must complete is the IRS form to obtain a federal employer identification number for the trust. This is the tax id number the trustee will use to file federal tax returns due for the trust. Although you can use IRS Form SS-4 to apply for a tax identification number by fax or mail, that is not the quickest way to do it. Instead, you can apply for an EIN for the trust online. If you are not comfortable applying on the Internet, you can obtain a copy of Form SS-4 from the IRS site and submit it via facsimile or U.S. mail. Be sure to use only one employer identification number per trust. If you are administering multiple trusts for the same settlor, consult a Tax Professional about applying for and using multiple tax id numbers.