Our office offers comprehensive estate administration solutions after a loved one has passed away. We primarily focus on trust administrations and related issues, however we also have expertise in matters such as probate and court-supervised accountings. The successor trustee (or trustees) for our office’s estate planning clients are entitled to a complimentary consultation upon the death or incapacity of the creator of the trust.
When a trust is formed, the creator of the trust (the “trustor” or “settlor”) specifies how his or her assets are to be distributed at the time of his or her death. The trust will also specify a trustee – often a family member or close friend, or occasionally a corporate trustee or private fiduciary – to carry out the wishes of the trustor.Upon the death of the trustor, the trustee will be responsible for a myraid of aspects of trust administration, including, but not limited to: notifying appropriate state agencies; filing an estate tax return, if necessary; notifying county agencies of the death of a real property owner; requesting a taxpayer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service; establishing a trust administration bank account to collect assets; mediating disputes between beneficiaries and family members not named as beneficiaries, etc.
Most trustees are unfamiliar with these procedures and the prospect of combining these tasks with the grief that family members and friends are still experiencing shortly after the death of their loved one can be overwhelming, so it is critical to have the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney during the trust administration process.
For example, one often-overlooked and misunderstood, but vitally important part of trust administration is ensuring that if any real property is being left to the children of the deceased trustor, that the trustee assist the children in maintaining the existing assessed value of the property for property tax purposes. Under California’s Proposition 58 (codified in Section 63.1 of California’s Revenue and Tax Code), children (and in some cases grandchildren) are entitled to exclude from reassessment the transfer of a parent’s primary residence plus up to one-million dollars of real property other than a primary residence.
Taking advantage of these benefits can save families tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes – especially on property that has been owned by the family for many years. There are a number of issues involved in complying with these regulations, some of which are complicated by the common scenario in which properties are to be transferred to children in equal shares. A qualified estate planning attorney can walk a trustee or family through these issues.
If you are in need of a highly qualified estate planning attorney to assist with the administration of a trust or estate, please contact Kaiser Law Group today.