How to Settle a Living Trust

Thomas J Bouman

Written by

Trusts Attorney - Tucson, AZ

Contributor Level 9

Posted almost 6 years ago. 15 helpful votes



Gather Information

The trustee must gather all of the pertinent information about the decedent, the estate documents, and financial data. An estate attorney should review this information, determine the necessary steps, and explain the process ahead.



The trustee (and attorney) will review existing estate documents, including both the financial and property information. The number and nature of these estate documents and any other related legal documents determine the complexity of the trust's administration. The trustee should meet with the estate attorney again to discuss the legal documents and asset allocation of the trust. Both the trustee and estate attorney should come to understand the family dynamics, needs, and desires.


Create Trustee's Authority

The estate attorney should prepare and explain the necessary documents the trustee needs to acquire the legal authority to act on behalf of the trust. After signing these documents and with this authority, the trustee is empowered to send the required notices to beneficiaries, family members, financial institutions, and appropriate governmental agencies. A tax and accounting professional may be engaged for the process of gathering, charting, and determining the character and value of each asset, as well as determining the applicable income and estate tax issues.


Analyze and Test

The trustee and estate attorney should interact with the accountant and financial advisor to create a plan for the allocation, distribution, or division of the assets. The plan must balance the dictates of the estate's documentation, the trustee's fiduciary objectives, the tax advantages, and the family's desires.



The trustee and estate attorney should finalize the documentation to begin the implementation process. Every detail should be assigned to the appropriate advisor for immediate action. This step includes deed transfers, letters to financial institutions, changes to business entities, and liquidation of assets.



The trustee should confirm that all steps have been completed. Possible estate planning needs should be reviewed.

Additional Resources

Bouman Law Firm

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