Here’s What You Should Know If You’ve Been Asked To Serve As Trustee

Here’s What You Should Know If You’ve Been Asked To Serve As Trustee

By Dana M. Heyde

You Are Being Asked To Be A Trustee

It is an honor if a family member or friend has asked you to serve as trustee for their trust either
during their life, or upon their death. This means they consider you among the most honest,
reliable, and responsible people they know.

Serving as a trustee is not only a great honor, it is also a major responsibility, and the role is not
for everyone. Serving as a trustee entails a broad array of duties. You are both ethically and
legally required to properly execute those duties or you could face liability for not doing so.
Your responsibility as a trustee will vary greatly depending on the size of the estate, the type of
assets included in the trust, the number of beneficiaries, and the trust terms. You should carefully
review the specifics of the trust you would be managing before making your decision to serve.

Remember, you don’t have to take the job. Or, you might actually enjoy the opportunity to serve,
so long as you understand what’s expected of you. Below is a brief overview of what serving as
a trustee typically entails. For help in making your decision, contact the experienced attorneys at
Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde, LLP so we can detail exactly what would be required of you. If
you do accept, we make sure you know how to carry out your responsibilities as trustee.

A Trustee’s Primary Duties

Although every trust is different, serving as trustee comes with a few core requirements. These
duties primarily involve accounting for, managing, and distributing the trust’s assets to the
named beneficiaries as a fiduciary.

As a fiduciary, you have the power to act on behalf of the trust’s creator and beneficiaries,
always putting their interests above your own. In fact, you have a legal obligation to act in a
trustworthy and honest manner, while providing the highest standard of care in executing your

This means that you are legally required to properly manage the trust and its assets in the best
interest of all the named beneficiaries. And if you fail to abide by your duties as a fiduciary, you
could face legal liability. For this reason, you should consult with us for a more in-depth
explanation of the duties and responsibilities a specific trust will require of you before agreeing
to serve.

But regardless of the trust or the assets it holds, some of your key responsibilities as trustee

*Identifying and protecting the trust assets
*Determining what the trust require in terms of management and distribution of the assets
*Hiring and overseeing an accounting firm to file income and estate taxes for the trust
*Communicating regularly with beneficiaries
*Hiring the right investment management team to manage the trust assets
*Being scrupulously honest
*Being highly organized, and keeping detailed records of all transactions
*Closing the trust and distributing the assets when the trust terms specify

Experience Is Not Required

It’s important to point out that being a trustee does not require you to be an expert in law,
finance, taxes, or any other field related to trust administration. In fact, trustees are not only
allowed to seek outside support from professionals in these areas, they are highly encouraged to
do so, and the trust estate will pay for you to hire the support you need.

Serving as a trustee may seem like a daunting proposition, but you won’t have to handle the job
alone. You are also able to be paid to serve as trustee of a trust should you choose to accept the

Many trustees, particularly close family members, often choose to forgo any payment beyond
what’s required to cover the trust expenses. The way you are compensated as a trustee will
depend on your personal circumstances, your relationship with the trust creator and beneficiaries,
as well as the nature of the assets in the trust.

We’re Here To Help

Because serving as a trustee involves such serious responsibility, you should meet with an
attorney at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde, LLP for help deciding whether or not to accept the
role. We will offer you a clear assessment of what is required of you based on the specific trust
terms, assets, and beneficiaries.

At Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde, LLP we don’t just create an estate plan, we create a wealth
legacy. We ensure you have the information to make informed and empowered decisions about
life and death for yourself and the people you love. Our Family Wealth Planning Sessions are
designed specifically for you to enable you make the best choices possible. You can begin by
contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session. Mention this article
to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Dana M. Heyde is dedicated to making sure each client is fully informed about the legal process and feels comfortable with all the decisions made on their behalf. During her years of practice, Dana M. Heyde represented businesses in civil disputes by using cost efficient and focused methods.

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