Dear Liz: Though there seems to be an unlimited number of books and seminars concerned with establishing a family revocable trust or living trust, there also seems to be a shortage of information on the steps a person would take to settle and distribute the proceeds of the trust when the last trust creator dies. Lawyers seem reluctant to reveal the legal steps required. Are you aware of a good publication with a minimum of legalese?
Answer: The book you’re looking for is “The Executor’s Guide” by attorney Mary Randolph from self-help legal publisher Nolo. The book, currently in its fourth edition, outlines the duties of someone who settles an estate or trust, offering a week-by-week and step-by-step guide. You’ll find the book in regular bookstores, online bookstores and at Nolo’s site, at http://www.nolo.com, both in physical form and as an e-book.
The job can be complex and you could be liable for any mistakes, which is why many people choose a lawyer’s help. Such help is all but a necessity if you’re dealing with a large estate (more than $1 million) or with contentious relatives. Even then, “The Executor’s Guide” can give you a clearer idea of what’s involved.