Trust administration in Massachusetts involves a series of duties and steps that trustees must follow to manage and distribute trust assets according to the terms specified in the trust document. As trustees carry out these responsibilities, they must adhere to the trust agreement’s specific directives and the precise legal standards imposed by Massachusetts law. This process includes managing assets, paying debts, and distributing property to beneficiaries while maintaining high transparency and fiduciary duty. Understanding the complexities of trust administration is crucial for trustees to ensure they fulfill their roles effectively and within legal confines.

Steps That Trustees Must Follow for Trust Administration In Massachusetts

Acceptance and Notification:

Upon the settlor’s death, it is good practice for the trustee to formally accept the role of trustee, either as specified in the trust document or through a separate acceptance document. They must notify all beneficiaries and other legally interested parties about the trust’s existence, the identity of the settlor, and their appointment as trustee.

Trust Review and Understanding:

The trustee reviews the trust document to fully understand its terms, the assets involved, and the beneficiaries’ interests. This review guides all the trustee’s decisions and actions and ensures they adhere strictly to the trust’s directives.

Asset Collection and Valuation:

The trustee identifies and collects all assets held in the trust. They must then accurately value these assets as of the date of the settlor’s death. This valuation is necessary for tax purposes and to ensure fair and equitable distribution among the beneficiaries.

Payment of Debts and Taxes:

The trustee is responsible for paying any debts and taxes the trust is legally responsible for, including filing any necessary federal and state estate tax returns and paying the income taxes due on the income earned from the trust’s assets.

Asset Management:

During the trust administration process, the trustee manages the trust assets. This management should focus on preserving asset value, generating reasonable returns, and considering all of the trust’s terms and the beneficiaries’ needs.

Distribution Planning:

The trustee plans and carries out the distribution of the trust’s assets. This step must conform to the trust document’s instructions. It might involve distributing assets outright to beneficiaries or continuing to manage trust assets for beneficiaries who are minors or have specific needs that the trust addresses.

Record Keeping and Reporting:

Throughout the administration process, the trustee keeps detailed records of all transactions, including asset valuations, distributions made, and income received. They regularly report these records to the beneficiaries to ensure transparency and trust.

Closing The Trust:

Once all the trust’s terms have been satisfied, debts and taxes paid, and assets distributed, the trustee formally closes the trust. This step may require preparing a final account and obtaining releases from the beneficiaries, confirming they have received their distributions and have no further claims against the trust.


Trust administration in Massachusetts is a significant responsibility that requires careful attention to legal details and the needs of the beneficiaries. Trustees must act diligently and adhere to the trust document to fulfill their role effectively. Throughout the process, trustees often seek advice from qualified professionals, such as attorneys, accountants, and financial advisers, to ensure compliance with all legal and tax requirements and to make informed decisions about asset management and distribution. Contact us today.