Once the trustee of a trust has distributed the assets to the individuals named in the document, it is time for the trust to end. The termination of a living trust is not something that most people give much thought to, and for good reason: the termination process is fairly anticlimactic and does not even require signatures. Once all assets have gone to the intended beneficiaries, the trust ceases to exist.

At the Law Offices of Dan Kellogg, our living trust attorneys can ensure that you, as a successor trustee, have properly fulfilled the duties of the trust so that it may be terminated without trouble.

Washington state law requires that the Trustee give formal notice of the existence of the trust to all beneficiaries.  Even if the trust beneficiaries have actual notice of the existence of the trust, it is wise to comply with this requirement in order to shorten the time within which a trust beneficiary can bring a claim that the trust is invalid for some purpose.

Following the Letter of the Trust Document

As a trustee, it is your job to adhere to the trust document 100 percent, as it will tell you exactly what the decedent intended and how they wished for their intentions to be carried out. You do not have any right to stray from the word of the trust and can face legal repercussions if you do. If you have any questions regarding the decedent’s estate that were not addressed in the trust, you do not have the authority to act on your own volition; instead, you must turn to the courts and state law for answers.

If, like most living trusts, your orders are to gather the trust property, determine its value, and transfer everything to its new owner, and if that is what you did, it is time to close the trust.   

File a Final Tax Return

If the trust earned more than $600 in income, you must file a final tax return on its behalf. If the trust did not earn $600 or more in the past year, there is no need to fulfill any tax obligations.

Inform the Beneficiaries

Once the trust if officially closed, it is a good idea to inform the beneficiaries via a letter documenting the termination procedures. While not always required, it is good form offer the heirs a brief accounting of what the trust took in and how you spent or distributed the assets of the trust.

You should always secure a written receipt from a trust beneficiary that acknowledges that the beneficiary is satisfied that they have received the entire distribution to which they are entitled.

Consult a Renton Living Trust Attorney

At the Law Offices of Dan Kellogg, our Renton estate planning lawyers can help you oversee the management of the estate entrusted to you, and ensure that you follow proper procedures so that the trust may be terminated in a clean and timely fashion. To consult with our living trust attorneys, contact our office to schedule a consultation today,(425) 227-8700.