On December 10, 2015

Essential Guidelines for New Trustee

Essential Guidelines for New Trustee

Serving as a trustee can be a rewarding experience. For those who have never been a trustee before, however, there can be a lot to do, as the role of trustee comes with various responsibilities. And understanding what these obligations are is critical to minimizing liability in this role – and to successfully overseeing and administering a trust.

To help you get started, here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you take on your new trustee responsibilities:

  1. Your general trustee duties – As a trustee, you are generally bound to protect and advance the interests of the trust. You are also generally required to act in an unbiased manner (in dealings with beneficiaries or other parties of interest to the trust); prudently manage the assets of the trust; and diligently carry out or manage the administrative work for the trust. Remember, trustees are fiduciaries, meaning that they have a legal obligation to responsibly manage the trust – and that they can be personally liable if they fail to meet this obligation.
  2. Specific duties per the terms of the trust – In addition to the general responsibilities trustees have, they also will typically have some more specific duties, as detailed in the trust documents. While these specific duties can vary from trust to trust, they may include taking care of the assets of the trust, making certain investments or payouts via these assets, making sure beneficiaries have lived up to their obligations per the terms of the trust, etc.
  3. Preparing to administer the trust – The trust administration process can be complicated and lengthy (depending on the trust’s terms). Commonly, however, trust administration involves maintaining detailed, accurate accounts for the trust; reporting on the activities of the trust; communicating with beneficiaries; and eventually making payouts to the beneficiaries.
  4. Professional assistance – All trustees should be aware that, in general, they have the right to hire an attorney (and other professionals, like accountants) to assist them in administering the trust. Given that trusts can have complicated terms – as well as the facts that trust administration can be complicated and that making mistakes can lead to lawsuits against trustees, it’s critical that people serving as trustees consider retaining an experienced estate and trust attorney to guide them through the trust administration process.

Contact a Denver Trust Attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC

When you are ready to develop, revise or administer a trust, you can turn to the Denver trust attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC. We provide a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to our clients’ estate planning, elder law and other legal needs, and we take pride in helping each of our clients and their families find the best solutions for them.

Let’s discuss your options during an initial consultation. To schedule this meeting, call us at (303) 741-2400 or email us using the contact form at the top of this page.

From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village and Englewood.

Categories: Trust Administration, Trustee Duties, Trustees, Executors & Fiduciaries, Trusts