Being a Trustee in North Carolina

Two hands shaking over a desk/office meetingYou’re A Trustee, Now What?

Being a Trustee is a serious and time-consuming responsibility. In case you’ve never done it before, below is a list of some of the roles and duties of a Trustee.

If you are confident that you have the time and ability to execute them accurately, legally, and quickly, this will give you a good head start. If, however, you are concerned that you don’ t have the time or energy to do all of this or are worried that you might make mistakes, or afraid that people close to you will be mad at you if you don’t do it perfectly and quickly, you may want to talk with us.

As a Trustee, You or Our Firm Need to:

  • Locate the Original Trust Documents
  • Locate the Pour Over Will
  • Acquire multiple copies of the death certificate
  • Go to the United State Post Office and forward all mail of the Trustee to yourself
  • Acquire all bills, liens notes owned by the Trust and the decedent
  • Acquire copies of all statements owned by the Trust and the decedent
  • Organize all assets and liabilities owned and owed by the Trust and the decedent
  • Determine what property is titled in the Trust name
  • Determine what if any property is not titled in the Trust name
  • Determine if a probate is necessary for any asset which is held outside the Trust
  • If a probate is necessary to determine who is named to serve as the Executor of the Estate; often this is the same person
  • Decide whether to hire a probate attorney/trust attorney to handle assets which are not held under the Trust name and the assets which are under the Trust
  • Coordinate the work which will be done by the Trustee and the Executor
  • If probate is necessary, due to assets held outside the Trust, the Executor must file all required forms at the court
  • If probate is necessary the Executor must submit a local notice of creditors to the newspaper following all the terms and conditions required by the court
  • If probate is necessary the Executor must value and appraise assets within the estate
  • If probate is necessary the Executor must make sure that all tax forms are finalized, taxes are paid and fees associated with the probate are handled
  • If probate is necessary the Executor must notify all heirs, and file the necessary follow-up paperwork such as the Accounting and Final Accounting with the court
  • If probate is necessary the Executor must pay off the debt associated with the estate, obtain receipts and distribute the assets of the estate in accordance with the final accounting
  • If probate is necessary the Executor must work with the Trustee before distributions are calculated and finalized, often with a Pour-Over Will, the beneficiary of the Will is the Trust
  • Determine what property may pass by beneficiary designation; such assets aren’t covered by the Will or the Trust; however such assets may be pulled back into the Estate if there is debt
  • After evaluating, assets and expenses notify beneficiaries of assets which will pass to them outside of the Trust
  • Understand the concepts of managing property under a Trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries
  • Administer the Trust, and probate if necessary, by abiding by all of the legal duties and responsibilities applicable under federal and state law
  • Follow the written terms of the Pour Over Will and Trust
  • Abide by the terms in the Trust and Will, if applicable without interference
  • Employ good judgment when administering the estate
  • Communicate with beneficiaries and keep them informed regarding Trust business
  • Manage the Trust assets in the best interests of the beneficiaries
  • Avoid potential losses to trust assets by using the utmost care with Trust assets and investments
  • Limit your personal liability by working with professionals throughout this process
  • Work with an Estate Planning Attorney to help you interpret the trust, follow the rules and limit your personal exposure
  • Work with a Certified Financial Planner to avoid market losses and limit your personal exposure to a market downturn
  • Work with Certified Appraisers to assess the value of assets and limit your personal exposure
  • Work with Realtors to assess the value of land and sell the assets set forth in the Trust and limit your personal exposure
  • Take a conservative approach when investing Trust assets by following the applicable investment standard
  • Ensure that the estate tax planning provisions in the trust are carried out to minimize estate taxes due
  • Be legally responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust effectively and prudently
  • Keep meticulous records of final medical and funeral expenses and submit medical insurance claims
  • Promptly collect all assets and income on behalf of the Trust
  • Inventory the assets of the trust
  • Prepare and file claims for life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts, etc.
  • Have the trust assets appraised and preserve the value of all assets held in trust until the assets are distributed or sold
  • Appropriately manage and invest the Trust and Estate assets
  • Secure, insure, and maintain the personal residence and other real estates of decedent
  • Obtain appraisals, titles, and deeds for real property
  • Notify creditors to submit claims for money owed by the Estate
  • Investigate and pay all outstanding debts of the deceased and pay any administrative expenses
  • Keep and maintain detailed, accurate records of all receipts, disbursements, and distributions
  • Document all sales, distributions, or other dispositions of trust assets
  • Submit records for independent review (if needed)
  • Prepare accounting for the management of the trust and estate
  • Ensure that the court and tax requirements are met for the decedent
  • Ensure that any necessary annual Federal and State Trust Tax Returns and/or Income Tax Returns are filed
  • Ensure that Federal and State Estate Tax Returns (if needed) are filed
  • Communicate regularly with beneficiaries to keep them informed of the progress of the administration
  • Prepare receipts for beneficiary distributions
  • Make sure that all receipts are signed prior to distributions
  • Establish and administer any applicable sub-trusts for beneficiaries with special needs, minors, spendthrifts
  • Distribute income and principal to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the trust document
  • Finalize the Trust
  • Distribute assets according to the terms of the Trust
  • Close the Trust when all assets have been distributed

Overwhelmed? We can help!

The Law Offices of Cheryl David is ready to help you, contact our firm for assistance with your estate plan today.

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