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Recommended references for first-time trustees?
Old 06-26-2011, 05:03 PM   #1
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Recommended references for first-time trustees?

I am a successor trustee for my family's (parents') estate and, life being what it is, expect to have to start acting in that capacity in the next few years. Assets are in living trusts that were set up back in 1994.

I would like to be as prepared as possible for the process and am wondering if anyone can recommend good current books that cover the topic of trust administration If it's relevant, these trusts are set up to be disbursed over a period of years.

Thanks in advance for any pointers!
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:59 PM   #2
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My parents set up a trust around the same time (1994) just before my father passed away. About three years ago my mother had to go to an ALF and there were missing pages from the trust document which we needed as her home was sold and it was in the trust.

I had my attorney update the trust as laws have changed etc. My mother was still able to sign the new Docs. Her health went downhill fairly rapidly and she passed away earlier this year.

We seem to be getting the necessary information that we need from the attorney and his paralegal. We have learned quite a bit in the past 3 years, however, it has all been on the fly.


Good Luck!
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeAtLast View Post
My parents set up a trust around the same time (1994) just before my father passed away. About three years ago my mother had to go to an ALF and there were missing pages from the trust document which we needed as her home was sold and it was in the trust.

I had my attorney update the trust as laws have changed etc. My mother was still able to sign the new Docs. Her health went downhill fairly rapidly and she passed away earlier this year.

We seem to be getting the necessary information that we need from the attorney and his paralegal. We have learned quite a bit in the past 3 years, however, it has all been on the fly.


Good Luck!
Thanks Very sorry to hear about your mom, my dad also passed away in the '90s so his trust has migrated from revocable. There have been no updates to their trusts since they were created, so I'm thinking that may be necessary (or at least reviewed).

It's amazing how much we end up learning on the fly: I have had several years of Adventures in Recovering Abandoned Property
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:19 PM   #4
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For references, so I could at least speak the same language as all the lawyers, I like the Nolo Press books. I found "How to Probate an Estate in California" to be very handy in dealing with my mom's estate and trust. Sample letters, checklists, and advice on who to notify, how and when were all very useful to me.

They have some trust-specific titles, too:
The Trustee's Legal Companion by Liza Hanks, Carol Elias Zolla - Nolo
The Executor's Guide by Mary Randolph - Nolo
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by steelyman View Post
There have been no updates to their trusts since they were created, so I'm thinking that may be necessary (or at least reviewed).
We thought that we just needed it to be reviewed, however, in the end it was redone. The other paperwork like the living will, will, durable power of attorney and POA were also redone. Having these documents up to date was important for the ALF, Hospice, a Rehab Facility that we eventually had to deal with. It turned out that the attorney that my parents used for the original trust did not have the best reputation. His focus was volume rather than quality.
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:02 PM   #6
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My parents had a living trust set up in Florida. My Mom died 1997, and I resigned my position as a senior Vice President of a hospital to move from Pennsylvania to Florida in 1998 to help my Dad.

After living with me for five years, my father died in 2003. And amazing to me....Florida would not recognize the living trust and required that the estate go through probate. There was a very small estate left which I expected since I handled his expenses for the last five years of his life. What I did not expect was the total denial of a trust held by his attorney, and the need to process everything through Florida probate regardless.

I am no expert in end-of-life financial planning. My father simply did what he thought would be helpful overall. So....lesson learned for me was.....don't trust whatever you think will happen even though you think you have everything in order. Maybe there was something he or I needed to do differently, but I have never been able to discern what that could have been.
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:37 AM   #7
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Of course the issue of the need for a trust varies from state to state. I handled both my parents estates in Tx, and with the independent executor, after being appointed you just file an inventory. Of course the inventory is public, but as my parents discovered in looking at documents from my great grandparents, these can in the long term be interesting.
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:14 PM   #8
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My parents died in 2001 and 2002 in Pennsylvania. Their assets were all titled in the name of the trust with me as successor trustee. I was able to handle everything without consulting a lawyer or attorney. The biggest hassle was with the various mutual fund companies and banks - each wanted different paperwork. BTW the instructions for the Pa. Inheritance Tax forms might just as well have been written in Japanese for all the good reading them did me. I just interpreted the incomprehensible passages in the way that resulted in the least inheritance tax, sent in the payment and the forms and that was the last I heard from Pa.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:28 PM   #9
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Thanks all for relating your experiences and suggestions - as usual on this forum, member posts and knowledge are very helpful. I'm not going to directly attack this until I ER, but that is quite close thankfully!
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