When someone dies with assets titled in the name of a living trust, then the successor trustee must go through certain steps to properly carry out the trust administration. This is similar to probating a will, but this process takes place outside of the public court probate process as long as the trustmaker (grantor/decedent) had properly titled his/her assets into the name of the trust. If decedent still owned property in his/her personal name, it may still be necessary to probate a will.
The living trust terms become irrevocable upon death and it is up to the successor trustee to carry out decedent’s wishes as to who will inherit what, when, and how. This involves a variety of jobs that normally include gathering the assets of decedent’s estate, paying bills, setting up testamentary trusts, and distributing monies to heirs.
The successor trustee should seek the advice and assistance of an attorney to make sure that everything is handled properly since the successor trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the estate. There are important deadlines that must be met.