What Does It Mean to Become Trustee?

An essential component of estate planning for those people who have developed a trust is to name a person who steps in as the trustee. Depending on the structure of the trust, the trustee might begin his or her responsibilities immediately or may only become activated after the creator of the trust has passed away.

A trustee has what is known as a fiduciary duty to act with good faith and put the interests of the beneficiaries and the trust ahead of their own. They could even be held legally responsible for failing to do this in court by a beneficiary.

A trustee has many different fiduciary responsibilities, many of which will be outlined with the trust itself. This includes taking possession of all trust property, depositing those collections into a trust account, making sure that the trust property is secured if necessary, paying all taxes and filing associated tax returns and keeping detailed records of disbursements from the trust and receipts for the trust.

The trustee has this fiduciary duty because they are also prohibited from using trust property for their own benefit or profit, taking part of a transaction against a beneficiary or favoring one beneficiary over another. In all of these circumstances, it can be helpful for a trustee to get the support of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to guide them through this process.

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