Role of the Trustee
Role of the Trustee
Michele Abernathy, an Estate Planning Attorney, explains a trustee's role and necessary personal qualities. There is an honor and a responsibility to serving as a trustee.
There is an honor and a responsibility to serving as a Trustee. Yes, it is going to be a lot of work and there will be issues. Take your time and do your due diligence. You will deliver the good news and bad news.
Whether the trust is a testamentary trust or a living trust, the role of the trustee is the same. A trust is an agreement between a “Grantor,” the person who creates the trust and transfers property into the trust, and a “Trustee,” the person who holds the property and administers it for the benefit of “beneficiaries.”
- A Trustee is similar to an Executor in that they both have a duty of absolute care to the beneficiaries of the estate/trust, but their roles in respect of the beneficiaries are quite different. An Executor is more of a liquidator, whereas a Trustee is more of a business manager.
- A Trustee is a fiduciary, meaning that a Trustee has the highest duty of care to administer the assets of the trust for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries. A Trustee is responsible for investing and administering the assets of the trust. A Trustee can be held liable to the beneficiaries of the trust if he invests the assets of the trust in an imprudent manner.
- A Trustee must also distribute the assets of the trust to the beneficiaries of the trust according to the terms of the trust. The trust may say that the Trustee can distribute the assets of the trust to a beneficiary for his education and only his education. The Trustee would be bound by those terms.
The role of Trustee may last for several months or several decades. So, unlike an Executor, a Trustee may be serving in his/her role for a long time. We understand your role as a Trustee. We have the expertise and the experience to help you with all the real estate needs of the trust. Whether you are selling a family home or investment property or leasing your property to be a performing asset to the trust, we are here and at your service.
We have the expertise and the experience to help you with all the real estate needs of the trust. Whether selling or leasing your property to be a performing asset to the trust, we are here and at your service.
Helpful Tip: Given the complexities of the role, it’s crucial that you consider the task only if you feel fully capable. The responsibilities often require generous amounts of patience, free time and organizational smarts. The skills of a detective may be needed to uncover assets tucked away or forgotten. Even then, things are sometimes missed. Good communication skills are a must. As you sort through legal and financial matters, you’ll confront a range of personalities, so it helps to be calm.