I am a Trustee – Now what?
As you take on the role of trustee, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. This is understandable because it can be an intimidating and confusing experience. But, with the right help, you can fulfill your duties and carry out the wishes of the grantor.
Acting as a trustee means you are the legal owner of the assets in the trust. You must adhere to legal requirements and the provisions of the trust document. One way to put your mind at ease is to understand your basic responsibilities.
Your responsibility for managing the trust assets begins with identifying and securing them. Make sure the assets are under your control and in a safe place. This also involves handling tax returns and paying taxes. In certain situations, you may also have a duty to make sound investments with the trust assets in order to preserve wealth and ensure the trust is productive. You should create accurate documentation of all decisions and transactions. Records will be valuable if any disputes arise.
The end goal of a trust is to disburse the assets to the beneficiaries. This requires a solid understanding of the trust agreement. There may be specific language in the trust regarding when and how you can make payments to certain beneficiaries. Situations may arise when you may need to use your discretion about dispensing payments. Overall, you must distribute assets in a responsible and timely manner.
As the trustee, you play a central role in the estate administration process. You are responsible for valuable property and family wealth. This means you will have a lot of eyes on you, which often comes with pressure from beneficiaries. You can quell some anxiety and impatience through consistent communication. Keeping beneficiaries up to date by issuing statements and tax reports can stop litigation issues from arising.