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San Diego Family Mediation Center

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Suddenly Becoming a Trustee of an Estate

I think we can all agree that we feel most insecure when suddenly, the order and direction of our daily life is upended unexpectedly. This is especially true when there has been a death in your family. This is often a great loss whether expected or not and you may now find yourself as the trustee of an estate distribution or a possible recipient of an estate distribution.  Families may be upended depending upon the type of loss and children may be involved too.

As a trustee, not only are you mourning the loss of your loved one, you have become the honorary captain of a ship sailing the stormy sea of emotions of an extended family with many expectations. As a recipient or sudden guardian, you may also be in a world of new emotion or issues.

At San Diego Family Mediation Center, we understand that this is a highly stressful time in your life. We have helped many families navigate the emotional and legal issues of settling an estate and child guardianship issues and bring order to an otherwise potentially chaotic process. We are experts in the area of family mediation, and provide direction, planning, and communication designed to address everyone’s questions from the start.

The goal of SDFMC is to hold the family together through these emotionally charged times and come out in the end with understanding and trust and, most of all if children are involved, a solid, workable plan.

Recently I was asked what I felt was the key to a successful estate distribution and I answered, “Communication.” At SDFMC, we use all the latest technological advances to assist us in defusing conflict and misunderstanding and mistrust through regularly scheduled updates whether via text, email, video teleconferencing, or meetings. In this manner, the trustee does not have to handle every detail alone.

You may think from this blog that estate distributions, guardian issues, and becoming a trustee are always negative and stressful! Not so, sometimes there is clear upfront understanding, good planning and fairness in the entire estate and everything is awesome. But in case you are not experiencing this nirvana of estate distribution we are here to help in these ways:


You gave it your best effort, you thought you could handle the trust on your own, but there are too many legal terms and contacts for you to handle. Your family members won’t stop calling you to find out the latest status and where their money is or Aunt Ida’s beautiful cocktail ring and what will happen to little Susie’s college fund. This is where SDFMC can step in and bring your life back into balance. Let us help you manage the many steps in the sometimes sticky process of an estate resolution.

Lessening the Impact

If the latest update or estate distribution is not considered good news to a family member, SDFMC can step in and help ease the delivery of that information.  Using a third party mediator often pulls the emotional charge away from the trustee and diffuses negative situations.  The news will be less emotionally charged with a third party present than if the trustee personally delivers the information. We serve as your partner as family members adjust to difficult news or new situations.

Addressing Legal Questions

If the trustee is the main point of contact, then the majority of the questions will be directed towards the trustee. It can be challenging for the trustee to answer a whirlwind of questions, whereas SDFMC has the experience and knowledge to answer estate related questions and has the resources to direct trustees to seasoned trusted financial advisors.

Help for Children and Spouses

Already reeling from loss, children are especially vulnerable to instability and sometimes spouses or family members are unable to fully “be there”.  SDFMC can pull the focus back to what is really important and what needs to be decided while also dealing with emotional issues. Fairness, empathy and understanding are the name of the game and we are experts at helping work out sticky issues of child welfare and happiness and spousal issues.

Bring Order to the Process

A significant emotional loss in your family is already causing you to feel out of control. We feel the greatest benefit SDFMC can bring to an estate distribution is the peace of mind gained through a controlled yet highly customized process. We can help you mediate through this transition with our caring expertise.

For more information on how you can use mediation before, during and after an Estate planning process please give SDFMC a call at  (858) 735-2411

Resolve, rebuild, renew – your family, your way