Trust Dissolution Case Study
- Keep attorney costs extremely low
- Honor the wishes of the deceased
- Locate every possible cent within the estate for the beneficiaries
- Always honor the best interest of the Trust
Arms Around The Project
As the trustee of my father-in-law’s trust, I had to understand the big picture. He was divorced with three daughters and one son, to whom I’m married. My job was to honor my father-in-law’s wishes while working through the family grief. I first met and hired an attorney in California that would assist me in understanding what my responsibilities were as well as the California Trust laws. I then made sure I had immediately access to bank accounts and his wallet.
Beginning with the big items that needed to be addressed, I categorized the projects in my mind: the house, piano, car, portfolio, accounts payable, taxes, life/health insurance and personal items. I had to find the answers I needed myself or hire individuals that had expertise in the fields I lacked. I documented all of my activity each day in a notebook and kept an organized filing system of all documents, all the while managing the majority of the project from a different state.
Hold Your Ground
In matters of money and inheritance, disharmony often occurs. I had to be willing to stand tall and not engage in the family discord. It’s been said that, “The dysfunction of a family falls on the lap of the trustee.” I had to be grounded in the face of controversy.
Keeping The Peace
Throughout the long process, I constantly kept all members apprised of my findings and activities by cc’ing all on correspondence and forwarding copies of bank statements. It was imperative everyone was on the same page, and at the same time the transparency cut down on unnecessary gossip. The name of the game is to keep open communication, even if relationships have been fractured, allowing opinions, but making final decisions that were best for the Trust.
Holding a family together through death and the dispersion of assets is a delicate balance for the trustee. While the process was bumpy at times, each beneficiary received items they found dear to their heart. The Trust dissolution was completed efficiently and fairly. Feelings were bruised at times, as emotions run high after a death, however, the Trust was respected as my father-in-laws wishes were honored.