Estate Settlement Trust Administration Services

Under certain conditions, we provide administration for estate settlement trusts (sometimes referred to as a "Will Substitute Trust") throughout the United States.  An estate settlement trust is a living trust that has been funded with essentially all of the property of the deceased trust client and has become irrevocable by virtue of the decedent's death.  These trusts must have a period of estate administration.  This process is a private one that bypasses probate and supervision by the probate court.

The trust document designates a successor trustee for the deceased trustor.  The designated successor trustee has the option of accepting or refusing the office.  If accepted, the designated successor will become responsible for the following estate-related administrative duties, among others:

(1) locating and taking custody and inventory of all trust assets
(2) determining the value and cost basis of all trust assets
(3) paying all lawful claims of creditors, including paying the bills of the deceased
(4) liquidating, segregating and/or distributing assets according to the trust document
(5) securing copies of the death certificate
(6) preparing and filing income tax, federal estate tax and any state death tax returns
(7) keeping accurate records
(8) giving all required notices to creditors and beneficiaries in a timely manner.

If the trust continues in existence after the estate is settled, the successor trustee typically continues to serve until the trust reaches its term.

Service Limitations

Due to the complexities in this type of trust, we may decline to serve as the successor trustee of an estate settlement trust with or without cause. We do attempt to accept each appointment.  Some situations in which we may decline include the existence of problematic trust assets such as contaminated real estate, the existence of trust document provisions or applicable laws that create conditions in which we are unable or unwilling to act or a trust size that is too small to be administered economically.


If our administrative services are being recommended to a client there is generally no charge for our preliminary document review services.

During the period of estate administration we charge a fee for initial account set up and an asset-based fee for the type of trust to be administrated.  An hourly rate is assessed for performing estate settlement related activities that exceed standard trust administrative services.  After the decedent's estate is settled, our standard asset-based fees for the type of trust administered are charged as set forth below.

Our account administration fees are based on the greater of a percentage of the value of the trust's assets or our minimum account fee, charged monthly in advance.  We charge fees for initial account set up, tax return preparation and extraordinary services.  We also charge an account termination fee to ensure proper transfer of trust administration.

Contact Us to discuss your needs and get a fee quote.