The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC Dec. 6, 2018

Trusts are estate planning documents that allow for the distribution of assets after the death of the trust maker. In most cases, trusts have provisions calling for assets to be distributed to specific people, but the trust cannot do the distributing itself. Rather, that is the realm of the trust's executor. People who make trusts in California will appoint an executor as part of the process. The executor of a trust has a number of responsibilities, including managing the trust, filing probate and tax documents, making distributions and accounting for changes in circumstance.

An executor's most basic job is to see that the assets of the trust are distributed by the terms of the trust document. A trust might be designed to distribute the assets therein over time, as opposed to a will, which typically calls for one-time distributions. The terms of a trust can be largely customized to fit the needs and goals of the client, so trusts are among the most flexible estate planning instruments. For example, the trust could instruct the executor to invest funds in certain stocks or bonds.

A trust could also call for the distribution of funds to a beneficiary only once the beneficiary reaches a certain age or achieves a certain life event. It might call for monthly payments to be made so long as the beneficiary meets certain requirements. The executor is tasked with making sure distributions happen by the terms of the trust.

In a case where a person wants to make a trust as part of an estate plan or for other reasons, a lawyer might be able to help. A lawyer with experience handling trusts and trust administration might examine the client's situation and draft one or more trusts to organize assets and plan for the distribution.

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