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By: Scott Grossman on October 17th, 2016

Do I really need a trust administration attorney?

I received a call the other day from a deceased client’s son. I created his mother’s trust several years ago. Now that she was gone he needed to act as the trustee and administer the trust. Over the past several months he called a number of times to ask me questions. Finally, the time came for him to decide whether he was going to retain me as his attorney.

How Would a Trust Administration Attorney Help?

He asked me a question which I felt was simply stunning, “Why should I hire you to be my attorney when the trust is already funded?” This obviously was an unfamiliar situation for him. He called me a number of times to ask questions because he didn’t know what to do as trustee. I answered all those questions and he appeared to be grateful for the guidance. I explained to the son that as the trustee he was going to have many duties; many of which he didn’t even know he had.

He described to me that of his seven siblings a number of them were hostile, even irrational. He would need to deal with all of them. If he wanted to avoid unnecessary litigation it would be advisable to formally administer the trust. I asked him if he had any experience in administering a trust. He did not. I asked him if he was familiar with the Riverside County probate court and its procedures. He wasn’t. I asked him if he was familiar with any of the reporting requirements he had as a trustee. He wasn’t. So I asked if you would like assistance from me to correctly administer the trust. He paused for a moment, formulated his response, and asked, “if the trust is funded why would I need an attorney?”

I then realized that the old adage “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is still true.