Trust Administration in California

Have you been given the responsibility of being Administrator of a Trust?

Trust Administration — being a Trustee is serious business.

If the Trust appears simple and your role is to only transfer title of the deceased Trustor’s assets to the trust’s beneficiaries, you may complete you role quickly. But overlooking the preparation and filing of tax forms with the state of California can have the disastrous results of increased property taxes for your children and grandchildren. Notices must also be given to all beneficiaries and they absolutely must contain certain language specified by California statute.

Man doing paperwork of Trust Administration,  being a Trustee

Many documents await.

However if there are provisions for continuing administration for minors, charities, or for ongoing generations, your role is much more involved.

In that case, you are financially responsible and have the responsibility to invest the trust’s monies and other assets well, dole out money fairly, and always act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

  • It may make you responsible for the future solvency of now-minor children.
  • The future physical and financial comforts of a handicapped person, or a good but financially irresponsible adult may be in your hands.
  • Perhaps the beneficiary is a non-profit organization in great need of the monies or assets you are handling.
  • These are just some of the many things that Trustees must concern themselves with.

As a Trustee, you cannot afford to make mistakes. Financial management and paperwork may abound. If you err, you may find yourself involved with legal actions against you due to those failures.

At any time in most situations, if a beneficiary of the trust has reason to believe you acted improperly, he/she/it can bring action against you, stating the actions in question. As the Trustee, it will be up to you to defend your actions.

When appointed as a Trustee, many people choose to come to us to aid them in the management. When you retain us, we work with you on an on-going basis to handle the responsibilities of your Trust Administration.

What is involved with administering a trust?

When you are assigned as Trustee of a trust, the person who will administer the trust, there is typically a Trust Agreement; a document that outlines your responsibilities.

These are the typical things that are involved with administering a trust:

  • The good news is that when you handle a trust administration you are not supervised by a court and you do not have to report to any court. In this way it is very different from probate administration. However, you may still need to turn to a court for assistance if there are disputes filed against the trust. Also, you need to furnish the beneficiaries with an accounting within the first year of the operation (usually that year starts with the death of the Trustor) and every two years thereafter.
  • You may be faced with creditors, or those claiming to be creditors, filing claims against the trust for payment of outstanding debts left behind by the deceased.
  • If the trust involves assets remaining in a trust fund for years to provide for future generations out of its investments, your role is ongoing.
  • You are not expected to be an expert in every responsibility with which you are charged. It is ok to delegate some of the responsibilities by selecting an agent or agents to help you. You are, however, responsible to oversee your agents. For example, you can delegate financial investment, accounting, tax management, and legal responsibilities.
  • It may be that a conservatorship will need to come into play while you administer the trust.
  • If one of the beneficiaries is elderly, any of the forms of elder abuse may come up.
  • If any of the beneficiaries are incapacitated, issues of care and/or abuse may come up.



While the Executor of a Probate receives a fee that is determined by the state of California, California doesn’t set a fee for administering a Trust. Instead, it’s usually determined after seeing us and a reasonable fee is agreed upon. You usually get paid the same fee as we get paid.