If you are the trustee of a living trust for someone who passed away, there is a process for closing it once you have fulfilled your responsibilities. Living trust lawyers Phoenix, AZ residents trust can advise you on the steps necessary throughout the process, or at the conclusion. They likely have assisted many clients who were unfamiliar with the tasks associated with being a trustee of a living trust. They should offer a wide range of trust, estate planning, and probate legal services. Call today to speak with an experienced trust lawyer who can explain how they might be of assistance to you. Below are some general guidelines about how to terminate a living trust as soon as possible.
One of the advantages of establishing a living trust is that it makes it possible for the heirs to avoid probate after the person passes away. However, this is based on the assumption that all of the decedent’s assets were transferred into the trust. If they recently acquired assets such as property, vehicles, valuable art or jewelry, or other high value items and had not yet transferred ownership to the trust, they may be subject to probate. Consult a trust lawyer to be certain. It can be helpful to hire a trust lawyer to oversee the process or to be available as needed.
Follow the Trust Document’s Instructions
The trust document, or trust instrument, should provide you with the information you need to carry out the decedent’s final wishes. You are legally obligated to honor the trust document’s instructions, but if the language is confusing or contradictory, you may need to consult a trust lawyer who might be able to provide you with the clarity you need. In some cases, especially when a trust document was not written or reviewed by a trust lawyer, the only recourse to clear up the confusion is to defer to a judge’s ruling. If a trust lawyer from our legal team can provide you the guidance you need, you can avoid the time and expense of submitting it to a court.
The Duties of a Trustee
If you are the trustee of a straightforward living trust, your responsibilities will look something like this:
- Gather the assets listed in the trust. (In some cases, this is not straightforward if you are not aware of where the assets are located.)
- As quickly as possible, distribute the assets to the beneficiaries as directed in the trust document. This may require you to liquidate some of the assets if instructed to do so. Depending on the item, this could take some time. For instance, if a house is one of the assets and the trust document instructs you to sell it and then split the equity among the decedent’s children, this could take time.
- If an heir is a child, young adult, or has special needs and is unable to make decisions on their own, this may complicate the process for terminating the trust. If this describes your situation, contact a trust lawyer for guidance.
Contact a Trust Lawyer You Can Rely On
At the termination of a trust, you may be required to file a tax return on the estate’s behalf. At any experienced law firm, you can be assisted with this in addition to other aspects of establishing or terminating a trust. Call today to request a free consult with a trust lawyer to learn how their legal services may be of benefit to you.
Thank you to our contributors at Kamper Estrada, LLP for the above information.