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The Flanigan Law Group. A Professional Corporation

Costa Mesa Post-Death Trust Administration Attorney

When someone is named as the trustee of another individual’s trust or the executor of another person’s will, it is an important and honorable duty. Nevertheless, such a responsibility often comes with its share of stress. Carrying out the wishes of a close friend or relative can turn out to be more complicated than it initially seemed. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to talk to a Costa Mesa post-death trust administration attorney.

Costa Mesa Post Death Trust Administration Attorney

The Flanigan Law Group: Your Costa Mesa Post-Death Trust Administration Attorneys

The Flanigan Law Group provides experienced and smart legal services to clients for their estate planning and legal needs, including those regarding post-death trust administration. The success of our legal practice is founded on our commitment to providing tailored solutions for the unique goals and wishes of our clients, despite any hardships that may come along the way. We understand that every case is as distinct and varied as the family dynamics of the clients we represent.

We have worked for more than a decade to expand our depth of knowledge and estate planning skills. For each individual case, we cater to the client from the conception of their estate planning to assisting in carrying out their wishes following their passing. The trust administration lawyer that you select when planning your estate can make all the difference to your loved ones once you’re gone.

Post-Death Trust Administration

A great deal of planning and documenting goes into estate planning in the hopes that all will go smoothly when the trustee passes away. Anyone can make an estate plan, but it is usually the most conscientious people who actually go through with estate planning. Those who plan out their estate do so because they care about what happens to their assets and want to make things as simple as possible for their families and loved ones when they die.

What Does a Trustee Do?

After a grantor dies, there are several things that must occur, post-death. This series of events is referred to as post-death trust administration. It is the process by which a descendant’s financial affairs are carried out, within the legal parameters set forth by the trustee before they die, according to the trust established in their estate plan.

A well-thought-out trust, in theory, should be a simple process that plays out seamlessly following the grantor’s death. However, this is not always the case, especially if asset distribution is not handled properly. Furthermore, the administration of the trust doesn’t always go as planned. In these cases, trustees often turn to a Costa Mesa post-death trust administration attorney for assistance.

What Does a Costa Mesa Post-Death Trust Administration Attorney Do?

An administration attorney has experience in trust implementation in Costa Mesa, so they can be a valuable resource when closing a trust following a grantor’s passing. These attorneys understand the importance of carrying out the final wishes of the grantor. They can also provide guidance and legal advice to help the parties involved avoid legal ramifications, mistakes, and penalties in administering a trust.

The trust administration lawyer can help collect the necessary documents so that the trustee can begin transferring assets to the beneficiaries. Potential documents that must be obtained prior to dissolving a trust are listed below.

  • The original trust document
  • The original last will and testament
  • The death certificate of the grantor
  • An inventory of all included assets
  • The titles and property deeds of all property held in the trust
  • Statements from all banks and financial institutions that hold the deceased’s assets

How Do You Administer a Living Trust After One’s Death in California?

To carry out a trust administration after the grantor dies, a trustee will have to complete a number of steps in the administration process that follows the death. These are the legally required duties of the trustee.

This can be overwhelming for many people who find themselves in this situation because they are not familiar with the legal procedures involved. In addition, because the completion of these tasks is dependent on the completion of other tasks, it can take quite a while to make progress.

The process can be made even more difficult if the trustee is grieving the loss of their loved one with friends and family. Furthermore, no trust administration is like another, so finding a how-to guide is not always an option.

Nevertheless, there are some commonalities in the process of post-death trust administration that are required by the majority of trust administrations. Below is a step-by-step guide that can help direct a trustee in their role of trust administrator.

Most trustees will likely have other things that they will be required to do as a trust administrator, depending on the type of trust they are dealing with. However, this can serve as a general guide to help streamline the process. If difficulties persist, though, consider enlisting the help of a trust administration attorney.

  1. Begin by taking possession of all related legal documents and financial records.
  2. File the decedent’s Last Will and Testament with the county court to proceed through probate court. (Some estates that do not involve a will and consist solely of a trust can be exempt from probate. Talk with an experienced lawyer to see if the trust that you manage is exempt from probate).
  3. Make sure that you understand all the responsibilities given to you in the will by the grantor. Review all instructions and duties you have as trustee.
  4. If necessary, connect with a trust administration financial advisor.
  5. Transfer the grantor’s financial assets and other assets into the trust.
  6. Open a separate bank account to pay trust expenses, creditors, and disbursements to beneficiaries. This also helps maintain the clarity of assets for taxes and other business-related purposes.
  7. If there are any real estate assets in the trust, collect the keys and access codes for the properties and secure them for safekeeping.
  8. Secure any other assets.
  9. If the grantor had any debts at the time of their passing, those creditors must be paid first from the trust’s assets.
  10. Notify all trust beneficiaries and heirs.
  11. Once all matters are settled, distribute the assets to the rightful recipients according to the instructions set forth in the will.
  12. Maintain strict and organized records throughout the entire process, from beginning to end, to protect yourself if any queries arise amid administration proceedings or after the trust is closed out. This will also ensure that you are adequately compensated for your efforts as the trustee.

Potential Legal Obstacles

There are dozens of situations that can arise throughout the process of post-death trust administration. Some of these are described below.

Challenging the Trustee’s Authority

It is not uncommon, in some cases, for someone to challenge the authority of the trustee. This most commonly happens following the death of the grantor at the time the trustee is taking control of the assets. This can be resolved in most cases by reviewing the trust documents to reassure anyone opposing the trustee’s authority that they do, in fact, have the power to take control of the assets as well as the trust.

It is important for a grantor to properly draft their will and trust documents to not include any vague phrases that could suggest errors within the trust, making it more difficult to confirm the trustee’s power and identity within the realms of the estate. An experienced attorney is a great resource to assist in the proper composition of a trust document or will so that it will not be complicated to others when reading it later.

Accusations That the Trustee Mismanaged Funds

Too often, beneficiaries of a trust, heirs, a spouse, or other family members may allege that the trustee is or has been mismanaging trust assets and/or funds in a way that was not in the interest of the beneficiaries.

This is why it is crucial for the trustee to keep highly organized records and document everything they do on behalf of the trust. In most cases, having a legal or financial professional representative review the actions of the trustee and oversee any future actions, relaying their validity to beneficiaries, can diminish suspicion among the concerned parties.

Demands for Trust Assets to Be Distributed

The will or trust document likely will contain specific and explicit conditions and instructions for the distribution of the assets, and the trustee is charged with carrying out these instructions. It is not unusual for the trustee to have discretion over disbursements of assets to beneficiaries.

Therefore, if the trustee feels that it would harm the beneficiary to receive their distribution of the assets, they may use their discretion to withhold those disbursements. In doing so, they may have to explain their actions, should beneficiaries seek further legal action against the trustee.

There may also be instances in which unnamed individuals believe that they are beneficiaries and, thus, think that they are entitled to some or all of the assets. In these instances, it is a good idea to hire a post-death administration lawyer to assist in working out these types of scenarios and protect the interest of the trust.

Outdated Terms or Provisions

If a trust was created a substantially long time before the passing of the grantor, it may be void due to outdated terms and provisions. A trustee may need to get approval from the court and obtain clarification regarding the portions of the trust document in question before carrying out the administration of the trust. This is to protect the interest of the trust as well as the trustee, as they are responsible for the assets.

Failure of the Grantor to Properly Set Up the Trust

If the grantor did not plan properly and correctly transfer assets to the trust, the trustee won’t have authority over those assets. This is because the trustee only has power over the assets that are held in the trust. The only way to overcome this would be to petition the court for power over these assets, which may be difficult, especially if other people are involved who oppose the trustee’s control over the assets in question.

Incapacitated Deceased Beneficiaries

Sometimes, the trustee finds that there are problems locating a beneficiary. In other cases, a beneficiary is believed to have been deceased or becomes incapacitated after the trust is made. In these scenarios, the intervention of the courts may be necessary to proceed with trust administration unless the trust document contains a clause for such an incident.

Having an experienced post-death administration attorney to oversee the creation of a trust is imperative to ensuring a smooth administration following a grantor’s passing.

Disputes or Contests by Beneficiaries or Heirs

There may be conditions or portions of a trust agreement that are contested by beneficiaries or other involved parties. This is most common when beneficiaries are not given equal portions of the assets.

When there is a contest against the trust document, it is important that the beneficiaries who support the trust take proper legal action. It is ideal to secure legal representation to prepare for litigation if necessary. It is the trustee’s role to protect the interest of the trust, the beneficiaries, and the rights and wishes of the grantor.

Seeking Legal Help From a Costa Mesa Post-Death Trust Administration Attorney

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your duties as trustee, get the support and advice from a reputable and experienced post-death trust administration attorney. While every trust aims at protecting the beneficiaries’ interests, there’s always room for legal questions after the grantor passes away. Even without these undue obstacles, the post-death administration of a trust can be complicated and difficult, to say the least.

Our firm has the experience, knowledge, and resources to help you carry out your responsibilities as a trustee. Our well-equipped legal team can help you close out the trust according to the wishes of the grantor. That way, you can rest easy knowing you did as they asked of you.

If you find that you have questions about your role and duties when fulfilling your legal obligations as trustee, or if you are in need of legal support in another capacity relating to post-death trust administration or any other area of estate planning law, contact The Flanigan Law Group.

Newport Beach Practice Areas


The Flanigan Law Group


15615 Alton Parkway
Suite 450
Irvine, CA 92618

Toll Free: 800-732-2413
Fax: 949-271-6346

The Flanigan Law Group


15615 Alton Parkway
Suite 450
Irvine, CA 92618

Toll Free: 949-450-0041
Fax: 949-271-6346

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