If you are the trustee of a living trust, refer to our Trustee Checklist for a list of steps you may need to take as trustee. We also offer a Successor Trustee Checklist form which is used to maintain an organized record of the tasks involved in administering a living trust.
Both of these checklists provide a basic overview of the trust administration process. As you begin the process of administering a trust and possibly administering a decedent's estate as well, you will need more detailed instructions. For more details on how to start administering a trust, review our free
Trust Administration Guide.With the right resources, many people can perform some of the steps of trust administration without an attorney. While you should have an attorney assist you in administering a living trust or estate, doing the more routine tasks on your own will save money. Some of the best do it yourself guides for trustees are posted on our
books for trustees page.
Trust Administration Fees
If the trust holds a substantial amount of assets or is very complicated to administer, it may be necessary to hire a bank or trust company to administer the trust. Even if you plan to serve as trustee, you may need professional help to invest trust assets or distribute income to beneficiaries. For an overview of how much it will cost to hire a professional trustee, see
trust administration fees.
Trust Administration Overview
Every trust is different. Some trusts hold a small amount of property and are terminated within a very short time after the grantorís death. Other trusts hold millions of dollars worth of property and provide income to trust beneficiaries for years. Sometimes a trust becomes the subject of litigation when a beneficiary disputes how the trustee is administering the trust. A trust dispute can also arise when a disgruntled heir challenges the testator's estate plan. See will and trust disputes.The amount of work involved in administering a trust also varies depending on a number of factors, such as the type of trust, the number of beneficiaries, the amount of property in the trust, the duration of the trust, the number of creditor claims against the grantor's estate, and the quality of the grantor's record keeping. To learn about the type of trust you are administering, see more about trusts. While each trust is unique, trust administration typically involves many of the following activities:
1. Obtaining legal documents and records necessary to administer the trust and certify the validity of the trust when dealing with third parties;
If you are a first time trustee, you may not be familiar with the fiduciary duty of a trustee or the guidelines trustees must follow when managing trust property. Failure to perform trustee duties in accordance with applicable laws can result in personal liability of the trustee. To learn about state laws that govern trust administration, see trust law sources.