How do I proceed as executor of parent's trust?

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My inlaws put everything in a trust, with my husband as executor. When my MIL passed recently, my BIL made a number of mentions of the trust and assets, sending a big warning sign to me. We all adore my FIL and pray he's with us many years to come, so this is not sitting well with us. When Dad passes, my husband will be grief stricken since they're so close, and will not be up for dealing with any trust stuff right away. I know that BIL will fly in and expect things to begin rolling ASAP. I'd like to have some sort of outline of what the process is so I can help my husband deal with this bs while he's dealing with his own grieving.

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I need help with this too! Thanks Garden Artist for sharing the information. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a 1041 form, I found a blank form here:http://goo.gl/LxQ5RF
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Gardenartist -- I also copied/pasted and saved this for future reference. Thank you so much! I anticipate sleeping like a baby after reading some of the documents too, haha.
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GA, thanks - going to copy and save this. With Dad taking care of things on his end and us getting informed at our end, we'll be ok.
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Somehow I missed this post, just the kind I like because of all the legal issues, so forgive me if I dig up an older post.

There are things that can be done now. Just so I understand, your husband is successor Trustee, which means that the Trust identified someone else to precede him after your FIL's death. But he is not a Co-Trustee? Is that first Trustee a relative (often the spouse) and on good terms with your husband so that the two of them could work together to lay the groundwork now?

If you've already done this, I apologize. I'm just thinking of what I did when my sister died and am glad I had the information I had. It really made a big difference.

In addition to the Trust, you may have a Certificate of Trust Existence and Authority, which summarizes the naming of the Settlor, Trustee(s), and Successor Trustees, if any. It also excerpts generally the most important empowerment clauses of the Trust.

If you have to provide documentation of the Trustee's authority, or when you set up a Trust checking account, this is the document you use, instead of the full voluminous Trust.

What can be done now:

Inventory all liquid and semi-liquid assets (stocks, bonds, mutuals, savings and checking accounts, IRAS, governmental or corporate retirement plans (if any), life insurance policies and all sources of income (SS, military, pension, etc.).

It helps to have them together by category in a file or binder. You could even list holders, contact numbers and policy/account numbers, which is what I did. Then when I sent death notification letters, I could just excerpt the information from the spreadsheet I had created when I did the inventory.

Inventory credit and/or debit accounts, as they'll need to be closed unless held jointly with one of the family members who may want to keep them open until the funeral costs are paid (plot, flowers, grave marker, etc.)

Depending on how thorough the attorney was who drafted the trust, there may or may not be a Bill of Sale which transferred assets (such as collectibles, cars, etc.) into the Trust.

And that's a very important issue: if the Trust hasn't been funded, the assets have NOT been transferred into the Trust. This means that the assets need to be retitled in the name of the Trust.

There are some specific issues as to transferring IRAs into Trusts; we initially did but then transferred them out because of compression tax rates on IRAs. This is a really complex issue which needs to be discussed with the attorney who prepared the Trust documents because of the tax ramifications.

List homeowners and vehicle insurance contact information. I found that the Secretary of State refused to retitle my sister's vehicles in the Trust, and her insurance carrier wouldn't issue polices in the name of the Trust. So I had to retitle them in my name. This is something the BIL might contest and fight because it appears as though a transfer of assets is being made outside of the Trust provisions.

If there are collectibles (such as guns), get model numbers and as much detail as possible as this will help when selling them. Gun collectors want to know a lot of information besides the caliber, etc. and unless someone is really familiar with weapons, it's time consuming to research that.

The funeral parlor staff in my experience gets the Death Certificates which you'll need to send to holders of liquid assets (along with an EIN notification - see below) and the Certificate of Trust Existence and Authority.

This was standard in 2002; I haven't checked IRS regs to see if there have been any changes, but then, I had to
apply for an EIN (Employer Identification No.) from the IRS. EINs are used to identify Trusts as SS numbers identify people. The fact that's it's called an "Employer..." doesn't mean anything as the form you'll use to apply has a box you can check to indicate that it's a Trust. (This can get complicated though; there are several different kinds of Trusts).

Holders of liquid assets, pension plans, etc. should be notified of the Trust's EIN number once the IRS issues it. These numbers will be used to issue end of year tax information.

The instructions and forms for IRS 1041 are good guidelines from which to start. They're also good bedtime reading. Some sections were so obtuse that they put me to sleep, truly. I began reading them at bedtime so I could fall asleep.

One of the issues that arose in my administration arose from a clause requiring that "expenses of the last illness be paid as priority claims". When we get our EP updated, I intend to ask that that include expenses of distribution and resolution of assets, so that funds can be directed toward sale of the real property before any distributions are made to beneficiaries. That presented a real problem for me.

That would also prevent BIL from rushing to get the assets distributed.

Hope this helps; it's been a nice walk down (legal) memory lane for me.
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Thanks folks for the help - I've got a good idea now on how to start this.
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Linda, read the Trust papers. There should be very specific language about what terminates the Trust and how it is distributed.
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Pam, I misspoke on the terminology - I know that the executor handles the will and the trustees handle the trust. When the last trustee passes, it will be up to my husband as the intown sib to get things rolling. And he generally asks me to work with him to research and figure out what needs to happen. So that's where I'm involved, as a facilitator. I'm just trying to get a feel for the whole process so that when my husband has to deal with it, there's as little stress for him as possible.
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Linda, I'm my mother's co-trustee on her Trust, since my dad passed away, and I will also be handling her estate when the time comes. I was also a bit concerned about handling my brother's probable "enthusiasm" over her assets. I've done a good bit of onine research, and it looks like in the U.S. anyway, it will take about a full calendar year to wrap things up. It's not like the movies, where the family gathers with the attorney following the funeral, haha. Taxes will need to be assessed for that year and paid, all creditors and accounts need to be paid. All bank accounts and investment accounts will need to be notified of the date of death, so that interest is calculated based on that. Basically, everyone needs to be paid, and nothing goes to anyone until that is all said and done. Once that happens, then assets are dealt with according to the terms of the will.
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You are already confused. The Executor only handle the Will. The Trust is a separate entity managed by the Trustees. You are probably not involved with either. There is no rush to handle either one, you have to wait for the official death certificates and then the persons mentioned in the Will have a reading of the Will. This can be weeks to months later. Usually the funeral home will give you a brochure on what to do next.
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CM, you make me laugh. Our daughters, having heard a few of the comments, are articulate and ready - I won't have to do a thing :-). I'll check out your suggestion re: leaflets and online searches. I was just checking in here for those valuable tidbits of "they don't tell you this, but you need to know about...."
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