Assume your position as successor trustee. Your role automatically begins upon the living trust owner’s death. Contact the financial or investment firm that holds the living trust and/or consult with the trust owner’s attorney to access pertinent documents to begin executing the trust’s instructions.
Apply for a federal tax identification number for the trust, if necessary. If the trust was a revocable grantor trust, the owner most likely reported trust income for taxes under his Social Security number during his lifetime. At the owner's death, the trust becomes irrevocable and must file under its own EIN.
Notify beneficiaries of the trust. You may want to consult with a lawyer in the state in which the deceased lived for special instructions on when and how beneficiaries should be notified.
Carry out the instructions in the living trust with regard to distribution of assets. This may include writing checks from the trust to heirs, transferring real property to beneficiaries or otherwise distributing assets as outlined by the living trust owner. You may work with an executor, if one was named in the deceased's will.
Dissolve the trust or continue to maintain the trust if the trust states that assets are to be managed in some way other than direct distribution. For example, if the owner of a living trust bequeaths money to minor children but includes a provision that the trust maintain the funds until the children are of legal age, it will be your responsibility to maintain the trust until the assets can be distributed.
File tax returns for the trust. You will be responsible for filing both federal and state tax returns for any trust income. You may also be responsible for completing and providing a Schedule K-1 to each beneficiary who received distributions of income from the trust.