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News & Info

A Trustee and Their Responsibilities

Jul 19 2016

Written by Jason C. Henbest, Esq. and Brittany Saxton

What is a trustee?  A trustee is a legal term referring to an individual who is given powers of property, administration, or a role in a trust which is intended to benefit another.  Many people choose to be their own trustee and manage their own assets as long as they are of sound mind.  However, a successor trustee will step in and manage the trust when the original trustee no longer has the capability to do so. 

Trustees make decisions which best benefit the beneficiary.  This typically involves managing assets of a trust.  Trustees typically do not have any personal gain in the process unless a trust document specifically permits as much.  Because a trustee is in a position of high responsibility, it is vital for them to be aware of the expectations associated with their role.

A trustee’s role includes, but is not limited to, the following: being aware of tax deadlines, managing trust assets, keeping beneficiaries informed, keeping detailed records of a trust, paying bills, keeping separate checking accounts and investments, and accounting. To successfully manage a trust, a  trustee can certainly gain the assistance of one or many professionals.  Yet, the trustee is the one assigned the specific legal duty. Thus, it is essential that in choosing a trustee, the benefits of appointing a familial or non-familial individual are equally weighed and considered.

Ultimately, each individual has the most comprehensive understanding of the options what best suit their personal lifestyles and needs. When contemplating the creation of a trust, convey these needs to an experienced accountant and qualified attorney; then, personal intentions can successfully be put into writing.  Contact local professionals for assistance in the creation of a trust, today. 

Barnegat Township Attorney | Estate Planning | Trustee