Being named as the trustee of a loved one's trust is a serious responsibility. If you've never had any exposure to something like this, you may not really understand what it means for you. Here are a few things you should know about fulfilling your role as trustee once you've been contacted by your loved one's attorney.
You need a copy of the trust document. It's the paperwork that your loved one drafted as part of their estate plan. The trust document details the expectations that your family member has for the funds and for your role as trustee. Read the entire trust document and call your attorney if there is anything in it that you don't understand.
Keep all of the funds in a separate account. You'll be expected to provide reports to all of the beneficiaries on a regular basis detailing the activity in the trust account. You'll find this much easier to do if all of the money is stored in a separate account. In addition, that separate account will make it easier for you to avoid using those funds for any personal needs. Don't lend anything out of the trust, either. All of the expenses from the trust must be related to the estate or the needs of the beneficiaries. Every financial decision you make must be in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the trust.
Hire someone to help with reporting. Unless you have a strong accounting background, you'll want to hire someone to help you with the reporting requirements. You'll have to provide the beneficiaries with detailed reports about where the money has gone, what's left and any projections about potential issues. Make sure you understand how often the beneficiaries want reports so that you can provide the documents in a timely manner.
Choose any investments carefully. As the manager of the trust, you'll have the authority to make some investment decisions in the interest of growing those funds. Just make sure that you don't rush into any investments without evaluating them closely first. Look for a balance between conservative investment and proactive revenue seeking. You might find it best to work with a specialist to get investment advice, especially at first. Also, talk with the attorney who helped to create the trust. He or she may be able to tell you if your loved one had any preferences about how those funds were invested.
For more information about trusts and what your responsibilities are as a trustee, talk to an attorney like Donald B Linsky & Associate Pa.
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