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So You’re A Successor Trustee Of A California Trust – What’s Next? 7 Steps You Can Take

Trust Administration Checklist for California Trustees

The responsibility of being named trustee can feel overwhelming for many, especially if they are grieving the loss of a family member at the same time. Many of our clients feel that it’s helpful to have a list of what they can get started on.

The first step a successor trustee should take is consulting with an experienced California Trust Administration attorney. That way, the trustee can ensure they are meeting their legal obligations and protect themselves against any actions by trust beneficiaries. The attorney can also complete all the necessary legal tasks for the trustee, such as the Trustee’s Notice, lodging the Will, and all required documents to transfer real property.

Once you’ve hired an attorney to complete the legal aspects of the trust administration, here are 7 things you as trustee can get started on:

  1. Assets: Locate and marshal all assets. This may include bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, real estate, valuable personal property such as cars.
  2. Mail: Collect and forward Mail.
  3. Creditors: Determine what money is owed by checking mail and email if available; locating all bills; and pulling a credit report if necessary
  4. Trust Bank Account: Open a Trust bank account or take the Trust to the relevant banks/financial institutions to change/update the Trustee Name.
  5. Taxes: Hire a CPA to confirm if prior taxes were paid, what expected taxes will be, and to prepare trust tax returns if necessary.
  6. Date of Death Valuations: Determine the date of death valuations of all assets, including bank accounts and real property. This can be especially important if beneficiaries are considering a buyout.
  7. Find a Realtor: Engage a realtor if necessary to sell a property/properties.

If you’ve been named a Successor Trustee of a California Trust and need assistance administering the trust, contact our office for a consultation at 925-322-1795 or email

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