Trust Fund and Estate Distributions

When a loved one passes, family members want their inheritance as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. If a loved one leaves a will and/or a trust, the executor or administrator has a duty to follow the wishes of the decedent and it may take some time to distribute the assets.

Below are some basic steps the executor or administrator may have to take (from

  1. Find all the important documents.
  2. Locating and listing all the assets.
  3. Review the provisions of the Will and/or Trust.
  4. Possibly meet with an attorney.
  5. Establish date of death values for the assets.
  6. Pay the decedent’s bills.
  7. Pay the decedent’s taxes (for the Estate).
  8. Distribute the remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries.

Generally, heir and beneficiaries may have to wait 1 to 2 years to receive inheritance monies or assets from the trust or estate. The executor or administrator will make disbursements based on the decedent’s wishes as outlined in the Will and/or Trust.

An article by Albertson & Davidson LLP ( discusses the “reasonable” timeframe for distributions. Below is a summary:

Where a trust is involved, Probate Code section 16061.7 requires that all trust beneficiaries be given notice. The beneficiaries then have 120 days to object to the terms of the trust. Probate Code section 16061.9(c) “allows a trustee to consider this 120-day period in deciding when to make trust distributions.

Issues that can further delay the distribution of assets include real estate that has to be repaired and sold, tax issues, disputed debts, death of a beneficiary, or even steps to remove the trustee.

From personal work experience, issues also arise during litigation matters as to an inheritance. Upon the death of the trustee, some assume the beneficiary automatically inherits everything at that moment. However, the beneficiary receives the inheritance upon distribution of the asset(s). In other words, it may take 1-2 years to receive the distribution. Up until the time of distribution, the beneficiary does not own or possess the asset.

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