Author & Course Instructor

Author, "Every Californian's Guide to Estate Planning"

Liza Hanks

I’m a graduate of Stanford Law School. I have has been an estate planner since 2001. I’m a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust Administration & Probate Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. So, yeah, I have the credentials. But honestly, too many lawyers think it’s about their expertise. What I’m interested in is your expertise. My favorite part of the job is teaching people to understand and use legal documents effectively — so I wrote this book.

Course Outline

1. Should You Serve as Trustee?

  • Getting the Big Picture
  • Trustees and Executors: What’s the Difference?
  • What Kind of Trust Do You Have?
  • Is There a Cotrustee?
  • Is the Settlor Incapacitated?
  • Are the Records a Mess?
  • Can You Get Along With the Beneficiaries?
  • Other Issues You May Be Concerned About
  • If You Decide to Say No

2. Thinking Like a Trustee

  • Fiduciary Duty: It’s All About the Beneficiaries
  • Get Help When You Need It

3. Working With Beneficiaries

  • Communicate Well and Often
  • Should You Share the Trust Document With Beneficiaries?
  • What Beneficiaries Need to Know
  • What Unhappy Beneficiaries Can Do
  • Heading Off Trouble
  • If You Are Also a Beneficiary
  • If You Are Administering an Ongoing Trust

4. The First Few Months

  • Get Death Certificates
  • Find and File the Will
  • Notify the Social Security Administration
  • Notify the State Department of Health
  • Identify the Beneficiaries
  • Notify Beneficiaries and Heirs
  • Inventory Trust Assets
  • Protect Trust Property
  • Get a Taxpayer ID Number for the Trust
  • Get Property in Your Name as Trustee
  • Review Trust Investments
  • Establish a Record-Keeping System
  • Get Assets Appraised
  • Pay Debts and Creditors’ Claims

5. Assets That Should Be in the Trust—But Aren’t

  • Trust Assets Not Listed in the Trust Document
  • What Goes Into the Trust and What Stays Out
  • What Does the Will Say?
  • Getting Property Into the Trust

6. Life Insurance, Retirement Plans, and Other Assets Outside the Trust

  • Life Insurance
  • Pension Plans
  • Traditional IRAs and 401(k) Plans
  • Roth Plans
  • Survivorship Property
  • Payable-on-Death Property

7. Getting Help When You Need It

  • Real Estate Maintenance
  • Organizing Personal Property
  • Legal Advice
  • Appraisals
  • Taxes
  • Investing
  • Trust Accountings

8. Managing Ongoing Trusts

  • Kinds of Ongoing Trusts
  • Trusts for Surviving Spouses
  • Trusts for Children
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Who Gets Trust Money and When?

9. Investing Trust Assets

  • The Duty to Invest Prudently
  • Permissible Investments
  • Getting Help From Investment Experts
  • The Beneficiaries’ Needs
  • Balancing the Needs of Current and Future Beneficiaries
  • Handling Real Estate
  • What to Do With Business Assets

10. Dealing With Taxes

  • There’s Always a Taxpayer
  • Careful: You Could Be Personally Liable
  • Tax Returns You May Have to File
  • Beneficiaries and Taxes
  • Missing Returns
  • The Final Personal Income Tax Return: Form 1040
  • The Trust’s Income Tax Return: Form 1041
  • The Federal Estate Tax Return
  • State Estate Tax
  • Other Taxes You Need to Be Aware Of

11. Trust Accountings

  • How Often Must You Prepare Accountings?
  • Who Should Prepare Accountings?
  • A Typical Simple Trust Accounting
  • Who Gets a Copy?
  • Delivering the Accounting to Beneficiaries

12. Terminating the Trust

  • When Does the Trust End?
  • How to Distribute Trust Assets
  • Filing the Final Fiduciary Income Tax Return
  • Keeping Some Trust Money in Reserve
  • Receipts From Beneficiaries
  • Should You Ask Beneficiaries to Sign Releases?
  • Final Correspondence With the Beneficiaries
  • Telling the IRS You’re No Longer Trustee



A.   State Information

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

B.   Sample Trust

Have questions?

If you want to talk to a real human being about this course, call 800-685-7331 or submit your email below and we will reach out to you.

Frequently asked questions

  • How does this course work?

    Liza Hanks will be your mentor, teacher, and guide. Videos, readings, and exercises are pre-recorded - you can work through them on your own time, at your own pace. Liza will answer questions on the discussion board.

  • Does the course happen on specific dates?

    No. The course launches in September 2022 and our first cohort will work at the same pace, but you can sign up at any time. You can begin when you are ready and finish when you complete all of the assignments.

  • Will Liza do my estate planning for me?

    No - the whole point of the class is to empower you to do this work for yourself and your clients. Liza isn't taking you on as a client - you are her student and collaborator.

  • Can I get a certificate of completion?

    Yes, we'll offer a learning check at the end of the presentation so you can get a certificate of completion.

Other estate planning courses from Liza Hanks:

  • Free

    FreeEstate Planning for Aging Parents

    for individuals and families
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  • $595.00

    $595.00Every Californian's Guide to Estate Planning

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