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Trustee Duties: Where to begin?

Trustee Duties: Where to begin?

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Ask Phyllis: a blog series of frequently asked real estate questions.

Dear Phyllis,

My mother just passed. She had a living trust and I am her trustee. She has so much stuff and I don’t know where to begin. At some point we will need to sell her La Crescenta home, but that seems a long way off. Moreover, I am overwhelmed with all of the trustee duties.  To sum up, what do I do and where do I start?


Dear Janet,

I am so sorry for your loss. The duties of a trustee are many. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to do this, other than to break it into manageable pieces.

Legal Matters:
You are fortunate your mother had a Living Trust. Meet with her attorney as soon as possible. You want to be certain that things are done properly.

Bills and Correspondence:
You will need to get a handle on the bills and expenses. Manage the mail and all of the miscellaneous correspondence. In addition, notify the insurance carrier if the home is vacant.

Go through the refrigerator and empty it. Check the pantry, take home what you want. Throw away expired items and donate the remainder to a food bank.

Meet with a Realtor Experienced with Los Angeles Trust Sales:
It’s never too soon to do so. Your initial meeting will simply provide you with a game plan. Will you be selling AS IS? Will you be selling with minimal repairs or will you be making more extensive updates? A local real estate agent can provide you with recommendations for an estate sale or for vendors who will help prepare your mom’s home for sale. Meanwhile, if needed you now have ample time to get the front lawn looking lush.

Personal Items:
This is often the most difficult task. Ideally you have someone to help you; you can laugh and cry together as you recall special moments with your mom. Ask family members what items they want to keep. Give them a deadline for pick up, because at some point you need to prepare your mom’s La Crescenta home for sale. It won’t be easy to decide what to keep, but remember you only have so much space for your mom’s belongings. Therefore, try to dedicate the garage or several rooms for items you and family members want to keep. Subsequently, as time goes on you may feel more realistic as to how much you want to take to your home.

Garage Sale or Estate Sale:
From my experience as a Realtor, an estate sale is best. You don’t want to be holding a garage sale and watch strangers touch and haggle over your mother’s possessions. Certainly, it’s simply too painful.

In short, this basic information will help you get started.

Best of luck to you and your family.

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Why have a living trust


One thought on “Trustee Duties: Where to begin?

  1. Carrie says:

    I am forwarding this post to my friend who is in a similar situation. She too is overwhelmed. Maybe this will help keep her focused

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