With so many people creating Revocable Living Trusts today, it is not unusual for someone to find that they have been appointed as a Trustee upon the death of a family member. Some Trustees are called upon to pay the Trustor’s bills and distribute the Trust assets as instructed by the Trust. At other times, the Trust was intended to last for a long time and the Trustee has an ongoing duty to manage the Trust such as in the case for Trusts set up for the benefit of young children.
If you have been appointed to serve as a Trustee, one thing that you need to know is that you can not operate the Trust for your own benefit. You must put the interests of the beneficiaries before your own. This is an obvious point that too many people seemingly forget. You can sometimes do business between the Trust and yourself, but any deals need to be fair and open. Ideally, you should consult with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney before doing anything that could look like self-dealing. Another thing that Trustees need to know is that they can not invest Trust assets in any way that they want. Trustees must act as a reasonably prudent investor would. That means that you should make good investment decisions that are not too risky or too safe.
When a Trustee fails to properly perform his or her duties, he or she could face a lawsuit by the beneficiaries. Talk to an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney about how you can best carry out your duties as a Trustee.
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