topic | executing a living trust

Step 7: close the trust

Close the Trust once property has been distributed. The timing of closing the Trust may depend on the status of probate. Situations vary widely.

Start by closing the Trust checking account and issuing a summary letter to each beneficiary that:

  • summarizes actions taken as trustee;
  • records property distribution; and
  • accounts for expenses and cash distribution.

There are two options for what to do next:

1. If there are probate assets and/or debt obligations remaining in the estate, bypass the following activities, and go directly to the next Topic: Opening Probate.

2. If miscellaneous property remains and there are no probate assets and no debts of the estate, complete the following activities.

Activity 1
Gather Information. List personal, household, and medical accounts.

Personal accounts include anything related directly to the deceased such as health club memberships and subscriptions. Household accounts may include utilities, home services, phone, cable television, and Internet subscriptions. Medical accounts may include a primary care physician, dentist, eye doctor, pharmacy, and insurance carriers.

Compile a list of accounts. Accounts, Deposits Deductions, and Dues Subscriptions may contain helpful information. If not, use these forms as a guide. Try to find the following information for each account:

  • name of account
  • contact information for account
  • name on the account
  • account number

Obtain copies of the death certificate

Activity 2
Notify and cancel personal, household and medical accounts

Contact critical accounts first. Attend to accounts with overdue balances quickly. Request and verify the following information for each account:

  • exact name on the account
  • account number
  • balance and due date
  • payment method (check, debit, direct deposit)
  • passwords for online accounts

Request written verification of:

  • account balances
  • closure of the accounts
  • any name changes on accounts

If an account cannot be closed because outstanding balance could not be paid, request that this account be frozen.

Ask for a refund if an account has been prepaid. Examples can include newspaper subscriptions paid through the end of the year or insurance premiums paid quarterly.

Determine if an account balance can be cancelled.

  • If estate funds are small or non-existent, the account will probably not be paid.
  • If the balance due is low, creditors may be willing to close the account without payment.

Notify all organizations associated with the decedent to help prevent identity theft, reduce junk mail, and improve peace of mind.

Register the decedent with the Direct Marketing Association which has a “Deceased Do Not Contact” list at This should stop direct marketing mail.

If possible change the name on accounts to the surviving spouse's name. If not, close the account and open a new account.

Activity 3
Gather government entity contact information.

The Topic: First Days after Death, described notifications to Social Security, local police, and the United States Postal Office. Now is the time to cancel other government issued identity documents to prevent fraudulent use. Also notify Social Services or local courts as circumstances require.

  • Locate driver’s license, identification card, and passport.
  • Gather copies of the death certificate and court appointed papers.
  • Collect contact information for government agencies.
  • Determine if there are other agencies to contact.
    • Are there outstanding parking tickets or handicap tags?
    • For court proceedings such as lawsuits, contact an estate attorney for legal advice.
  • Voter’s registration is cancelled in the decedent's residence county.

Activity 4
Notify government entities and make cancellations

Cancel Passport, Cancel Driver's Lic, and Cancel Voter Reg may be used as references when constructing requests for cancellation.

  • A copy of the death certificate is required to cancel a driver’s license or voter’s registration. The cancelled driver’s license may be kept for posterity, destroyed, or included with the cancellation request.
  • To cancel a passport, include an original death certificate and the original passport with the request.
  • If the decedent was not a U.S. citizen, notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service at 800-375-5283.

Congratulations! If you have successfully administered the Living Trust, there are no probate assets, and no debts of the estate, then the administration process is complete. Your hard work has paid off. There is no need to continue with further Topics.

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