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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Charitable Trusts
    It is possible to set up a trust for charitable purposes. Charitable trusts are quite common, but certain requirements must be met. Purpose of a Charitable Gift Reasons for charitable gifts funded through... Read more.
  • Resulting Trusts
    There may be instances where property under a trust is transferred to the wrong beneficiary. This transfer can be corrected through a remedy called a resulting trust or an implied trust. Do not confuse a resulting trust, which is... Read more.
  • The Judicial Doctrine of Equitable Adoption
    In general terms, the judicial doctrine of “equitable adoption” recognizes a valid parent-child relationship in the absence of a formal adoption procedure, holding a person who has acted like a child’s parent for a... Read more.
  • Valuation of Securities for Estate Tax Purposes
    In 2001, Congress passed legislation incrementally increasing the amount exempt from federal estate taxes and completely eliminating estate taxes in the year 2010. However, the legislation contains a “sunset” provision... Read more.
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Duties of a Trustee

Every trust must have a trustee to properly administer the elements of the trust. Trustees can be individuals, financial institutions or even organizations.

A trustee follows the precise instructions of the trustor (or the trustor’s authorized representative), and also adheres to rules imposed by law.

Prudent Person Rule

Trustees are subject to the “prudent person” rule. This rule states that trustees should use the same standard of care and diligence that any sensible person would use in managing property. Additionally, a trustee should make a strong effort and utilize all of his/her skills in caring for the trustor’s property.

Responsibilities

A trustee has the duty to accomplish the following:

  • Administer internal affairs
  • Manage property
  • Invest property
  • Distribute income and principal
  • Deal with beneficiaries impartially
  • Use discretion over the important areas of the trust

Beneficiaries

A trustee has a fiduciary duty to the trust’s beneficiaries as well as to the trustor. In dealing with beneficiaries, a trustee should:

  • Use property only for the beneficiaries’ interest
  • Disclose important facts
  • Provide additional information related to the trust upon request of the beneficiaries

Improper Activity

A trustee should not:

  • Use trust property for personal benefit or purposes not related to the trust
  • Acquire interests in conflict with those of the beneficiary
  • Sell property to himself/herself
  • Delegate his/her duties to another individual

If a trustee is suspected of improper activity or misuse of his/her discretionary decision-making powers, the court will review the trustee’s actions after a petition is filed by the trustor or any beneficiary. A trustee may also petition the court for a review if beneficiaries question his/her decisions.

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