How long can a living trust last?

A living trust holds the trustmaker or “grantor’s” assets so that, upon their death, those assets will transfer to the beneficiaries, thereby avoiding the cost and time of probate court.

If it is a revocable trust, the grantor has the right to amend, add, or remove assets, and even cancel it at any time during their lifetime. When the grantor dies, the successor trustee that is named in the trust documents will begin their duties; the successor trustee also has the legal right to manage the trust should the grantor become incapacitated.

Irrevocable trusts cannot be modified, amended or terminated after they are created. This type of trust can remain open indefinitely after the grantor dies and can be taken over by an existing co-trustee or a successor trustee.

How long a trust can remain open after death is a common question. A trust can remain open for up to 21 years after the death of anyone living at the time of the trust’s creation, but that is not common procedure. Most trusts are settled when the grantor dies, and the successor trustee distributes the assets as quickly as possible. 

What is the timeline for settling a living trust?

The more likely scenario

The moment the grantor dies, the revocable living trust automatically converts to an irrevocable trust which means no further changes can be made. While a trust can remain open for 21 years after the death of the grantor, most are closed immediately after death. This can take anywhere from a couple of months to one year, and even as long as two years, depending upon the complexity of the assets held in the trust. 

Other factors that can affect the timeline include: where the successor trustee lives, if there is more than one successor trustee, if the successor trustee doesn’t want the job, the number of beneficiaries involved, when the grantor’s estate is taxable.

Once the successor trustee oversees all of the requirements to settle the deceased’s trust, they are ready to distribute that assets to the beneficiaries and dissolve the trust. However, if a beneficiary decides to contest a trust, that can also extend the time it takes to settle.

Trust administration services

If you are the successor trustee of a parent or other family member that has recently passed, settling their trust can be emotional, and the added stress of trust administration duties, especially if the trust is complicated, is unnecessary. Don’t go it alone! Our attorneys understand California laws and offer expert trust administration services to help you during this difficult time. 

At the Law Office of David W. Foley, we are a family owned and operated law firm, so we understand the issues that our clients and their families face, especially after the death of a loved one.