Yesterday I made a brief presentation to some Fairwinds elder care residents.
I was a little disappointed to learn that several residents who had revocable living trusts thought nothing needed to be done after the death of their spouse. In fact, just yesterday morning a lady came in with one of her sons about the death of her husband ten years ago! She said no one told her that she needed to do things following his death. I had not done their trust.
First of all, the California Probate Code requires certain things to be done: Deposit the Will with the Clerk of the Court and to Notify beneficiaries of any irrevocable trust of their rights, which happens in many trusts that divide at the first death to protect the assets from being taxed.
Beyond that, if real estate has been transferred into the trust of a married couple, an affidavit needs to be recorded to evidence that just the surviving spouse (normally) can deal with the real estate. How else can the property be sold or financed? And financial institutions need to have some documentation to justify changing the account to the name of just one of the spouses acting as trustee.
Then there's the issue of appraisals to adjust the cost basis of the assets owned at the date of death. That alone can be very beneficial for income producing property because the CPA can then devise a new depreciation schedule "as if" the property was newly purchased, which can save the surviving spouse many thousans of dollars in income tax in future years.
Remember, though, that the revocable living trust will save the family many thousands of dollars in probate fees, far outweighing the cost of post death work of the attorney and CPA.