As successor trustee, one of the first things you should do is start gathering the necessary documents to administer the trust. You will need various forms and information as the administration progresses, but here are a few things you will need to start. (You won't need all of this for the initial legal consultation, but it will help. You will need all of this before you can begin the process of administering the trust.)
The trust document
The specifics of the trust administration will be determined by the content of the trust document. You need to locate the original if possible, or at least a copy, including all amendments.
The original last will and testament
Whoever has the will must lodge (deposit) it with the court within 30 days (Don't panic if you haven't done this yet. Just do it as soon as possible.). A copy also goes to the executor (which is usually the same person as the trustee). You should include any codicils to the will, if appropriate. In San Diego, there is a $50 fee for lodging the will with the court.
Certified copies of the death certificate
You will need to get at least a couple certified copies of the death certificate to administer the trust. You should obtain them as soon as possible from the appropriate agency. Banks and other entities will need a copy to grant access to financial assets, and you will need a copy to include with the Affidavit of Death of Trustee for real property.
A list of assets
You should compile a list of assets and debts, to the best of your ability, and the approximate value of each. The types of assets and their value will make a difference as to what steps are necessary to begin. Include all assets on your list, whether they are titled in the trust or not. Also include information on life insurance policies and retirement accounts, if applicable.
Real property information
If real property is involved, you will need the addresses (and APN numbers, if available), for each. If you have a copy of the most recent deed, even better, but your attorney will be able to locate it regardless.
Names and addresses of beneficiaries and heirs
One of your first duties is to send out notices of trust administration to each of the beneficiaries and heirs. Therefore, you will need each person's name and last known address, in order to fulfill this statutory responsibility.
If you consult with an attorney, this information will be very helpful. However, some of it may take a while to obtain, so don't wait to make the appointment. You can follow up with the documents later, as needed.
Helix Law Firm can help with trust administration
If you are the trustee of a trust, we can help you carry out your duties correctly. The first step is to call our office and schedule an appointment. We will review the trust, provide you a roadmap, and guide you through the process.
If you're interested in learning more, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.