Trust Administration, Conservatorships & Guardianships
Trustees are fiduciaries and are therefore have duties and obligations they are required to meet. Some of these duties and obligations are mandated by the terms of the trust document itself, and others are required under California laws governing trusts. Failure to comply with these duties and obligations, even if the trustee was acting in good faith, could result in personal liability of the trustee. Given the complexity of the law in this area, it is highly advisable to seek the advice of an experienced trust administration attorney.
The Snow Law Corp. has significant experience in the area of trust administration, and can advise you on any issue arising during the administration of a trust, including:
- The duties, powers and standards of a trustee
- Investing and managing trust assets
- Resignation or removal of a trustee
- Modification, revocation or termination of a trust
- Trustee accounting and recordkeeping
- Creditor's rights against the trust or beneficiaries
- Trustee compensation and attorneys' fees
- Administering a trust after the death of a settlor
- Subtrust funding
- Income taxation of trusts and estate tax returns
A common estate planning error is the failure to transfer title to an asset into the name of a revocable living trust. We frequently have clients of other law firms come to us for assistance with trust administration after the death of the settlor, and we then discover that the trust has not been properly funded with the assets of the decedent. When this occurs, we prepare a petition to the probate court commonly known in California as a Heggstad petition, requesting that the court allow for the transfer of the asset in accordance with the terms of the living trust, without the requirement of a full probate proceeding.
A conservatorship is a court proceeding where a judge determines that a person (called the "conservatee") can no longer manage their finances or make decisions regarding their care. The judge will then appoint another person or an organization (called the "conservator") to handle the conservatee's care or finances, or both. There are two types of conservatorships: 1) of the person; and 2) of the estate.
The need for a conservatorship can be avoided by proper estate planning; documents such as trusts, durable powers of attorney for financial management and advance health care directives all provide a plan for the management of a person's finances and personal medical care in the event of subsequent incapacity. However, if a person is already incapacitated, often due to dementia, an accident, stroke or illness, and the person does not have these documents already in place, a conservatorship may be the only option.
A guardianship is established by the court when the parents of a child under the age of 18 can no longer care for the child. The parents may be unable to care for the child due to illness, death, military deployment or other reasons.
The Snow Law Corp. frequently prepares wills nominating guardians for any minor children of our clients. We can assist in petitioning the court to establish a guardianship, advising guardians on their duties and responsibilities, and in terminating guardianships.
For assistance with trust administration, a conservatorship or guardianship, contact the Snow Law Corp. by e-mail, or call us at (661) 877-4135 for a consultation.