Here's feedback that I received from a reader, a community bank official in New York, who was responding to an Aug. 30 Q&A that I posted. The question asked how a successor trustee knows what to do in a trust administration, and whether hiring an attorney was the only option. In my answer, I discussed my view that working with an experienced lawyer makes the process go much more smoothly for the trustee. Tim offers another approach, below.
While I'm all for attorney full employment, being one myself, some bank trust departments will handle trust administration for individual trustees. Since the bank's trust officers had no role in drafting the already executed (trust), it is simply a matter of administration with some interpretation. That is something most bank trust departments are adept at handling, especially those with decades of in-house experience.
(Bank trust departments) charge an hourly fee that, in most instances, is much less than law firms. In addition (for additional fees, of course), trust departments can handle the investment of marketable securities. --Tim, New York
Note: Here in California, I am not aware that this approach is widely used, so I believe this practice varies by state. Trustees can hire trust departments in California to serve as their agents to handle many of the duties of the trustee, which can be useful and would reduce the role of the lawyer, but not replace it.