The process of settling a living trust is faster than that of probate administration. Although there no court involvement, there is still a lot involved.
- The trustee gathers information pertaining to the deceased, financial data and estate documents. The estate attorney reviews the information, explains the settlement process and determines the necessary steps.
- The estate attorney and trustee reviews property and financial information contained in the estate documents, as well as any other legal documents. The trustee and attorney discuss issues pertaining to the legal documentation, as well as asset allocations. The attorney and trustee should both understand the desires and needs of the family, as well as the family dynamics.
- The estate attorney prepares and explains the documents needed by the trustee in order to have legal authority to act on the trust’s behalf. Once the trustee signs these documents, he will have the authority to send notices to family members, beneficiaries, appropriate government agencies and financial institutions. The services of a tax professional and accountant may be enlisted for the purpose of determining asset values and income and estate tax issues.
- The estate attorney and trustee works with a financial advisor and accountant and to develop a plan for asset allocation, division or distribution. The plan should meet the estate documents’ dictates, fiduciary objectives of the trustee, the tax advantages, and the desires of the family.
- The estate attorney and trustee finalizes all documentation to start the trust implementation process. This involves deed transfers, changes to business entities, communication to financial institutions and asset liquidation.
- The final step is confirmation by the trustee that each step of the trust settlement process has been completed.