Trustees have important legal responsibilities. When you were asked to be a trustee, you may have been honored and eager to help. While those things may still be true, now you have an important job to do and certain legal responsibilities that must be fulfilled.
What’s Expected of You
As a trustee, it will be your responsibility to:
- Identify all trust assets.
- Treat all of the beneficiaries equally—unless the trust states that you can do otherwise.
- Make trust distributions according to the terms of the trust.
- Make sure that you do not use the trust assets for your own benefit or combine trust assets with your own.
- Invest trust assets in a reasonable way that will allow them to grow with little risk.
- Keep accurate trust records.
- Report to the beneficiaries as required.
- File all applicable tax returns.
Other responsibilities may also be described in the trust document.
You Don’t Have to Do This Alone
Being a trustee can take a lot of time and a lot of effort. It can also put you at risk of being sued if you make a mistake. Accordingly, you may want to protect yourself by working with professionals who can make sure that you are doing everything correctly. For example, an accountant can help with tax returns, a financial planner can help you with investments, and a lawyer can make sure that you are complying with all applicable laws so that you, the trust grantor, and beneficiaries are all protected.
While not every trust beneficiary needs a lawyer, many will benefit from the experience of a skilled attorney. If you are a trustee, then we encourage you to contact us today for an initial consultation about your rights. If we believe that you can handle your trustee duties independently, then we will tell you that. Likewise, if we believe that we can help you comply with applicable laws and administer the trust fairly, then we will also tell you that.
In some situations, the trust itself may pay for the professional services needed by the trustee. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by scheduling a free consultation with us. Please contact us via this website or by phone today to learn more.