A trustee is a person who acts as a custodian for all the assets contained within a trust. This individual is tasked with administering and managing the money within the trust based on the given instructions. In many cases, the trustee is the person who creates the trust until they can no longer fill the role.
When this happens, a successor trustee takes over the tasks. Responsibilities can include everything from filing taxes on income the trust makes to recording income and expenses and distributing funds to the right people while keeping records of all transactions.
The largest role of a trustee is to ensure they act in the best interest of the trust. As such, it’s important to choose someone as a trustee who will put their own goals to the side while they follow the trust’s instructions.
The Responsibilities of a Trustee
As you can see, trustees have several responsibilities. However, the most important is to follow the directions of the trust. This is the key to protecting your legacy. You should realize that this role has a variety of requirements. We’ll share some of the most common below.
Acting as a Fiduciary
A fiduciary is someone who is held to the highest standards in terms of protecting the distribution and investments of the trust. Some people believe that the trustee should be more diligent with matters of the trust than they are with even their own financial accounts and investments.
Understand the Trust Terms
The assets within a trust should stay safe, so a trustee needs to be aware of the terms outlined in it. This person should be aware of who all beneficiaries are and review the records to ensure they are accurate and in good order.
Answering beneficiary questions is a large part of being a trustee. It’s a trustee’s job to find out answers and then get that information to the person who asked quickly. Making sure the answers are correct and sent out to the right people is essential.
Trustees will need to file and prepare tax returns but it doesn’t stop there. Trustees also need to keep all statements and records filed and organized so they can easily be looked at whenever needed.
If you have a trust that needs to be updated or you want to start a trust, speak with an attorney at Bell & Shah, who is experienced with this facet of law. Learn more about estate planning, including who to use as a trust for the best results.