A living trust is a common document in estate planning that provides for an orderly transfer of property without having to go through the time and expense of probate court. One important aspect of the living trust is naming a successor trustee – the person who will be responsible for transferring the trust assets when the person who made the trust dies. If you are named as a successor trustee, you must perform the task of taking title to the trust assets and ensuring that the property is properly distributed to the trust beneficiaries. This task requires knowing how to sign trust-related documents.
Locate the original trust document, which should be among the decedent's personal papers or with his attorney. Once the document is available, verify your status as successor trustee.
Read More: Transferring Property From a Living Trust to a Successor Trustee
Obtain a certified copy of the death certificate from the county clerk. This document is often required to establish to third parties that you are authorized to act as the successor trustee.
Prepare a trust certificate to give to others holding estate property, such as banks, as well as the government agency responsible for recording documents related to ownership of real estate. In most cases, a bank or government agency will have a pre-printed document for you to use.
Prepare an affidavit of death of trustee for filing with the county clerk in any county where the decedent owned real estate. The county clerk's office typically provides a form for this purpose.
Sign your name on all trust-related documents in a manner that reflects your position as trustee, such as "Robert P. Jones, trustee of the Jones Family Trust."
The successor trustee provision of a living trust always becomes effective upon the death of the person who made the trust, but it also may become effective if the maker of the trust becomes incapacitated and unable to manage his assets or care for his daily needs. The same documents and rules apply to this situation as to when the maker of the trust dies.
Joe Stone is a freelance writer in California who has been writing professionally since 2005. His articles have been published on LIVESTRONG.COM, SFgate.com and Chron.com. He also has experience in background investigations and spent almost two decades in legal practice. Stone received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.