Trusts come in numerous forms and sizes with a variety of purposes and terms. How the trust is managed and the related legal duties of the trustee depend on the specifics of the trust and on state and federal applicable law. The grantor names a trustee of the trust within the instrument. The trustee may be a professional or financial institution with specific knowledge about administering the terms of the trust, but often trustees are laypersons who have little experience in the role.
The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Attia, PA is involved in all aspects of trust creation, management and distribution. Our firm assists trustees in the successful administration of the trust and counsels trustees, beneficiaries and grantors on important legal issues concerning the trust.
Whether you seek help with fulfilling your important role as a trustee or guidance throughout the entire trust management process, Fort Myers trust administration attorney Jeffrey Attia can provide you with experience and knowledge to ensure successful results.
Understanding the Trust Document
A trust is an estate planning tool that allows for the management of property during the lifetime of the grantor and upon her or his death. Although each trust is unique, they all have these elements in common:
- The trust is the document that contains the terms of property management and distribution to the beneficiaries. What terms are included depend upon the circumstances and goals of the grantor and beneficiaries.
- The grantor creates and funds the trust. The grantor may also be the beneficiary of a living trust.
- The trustee is responsible for administering the trust according to the trust terms and under applicable laws, while acting in the beneficiaries’ best interests.
- The beneficiaries are the people or entities that benefit from the trust. Beneficiaries may be the grantor, family members, pets, charitable organizations or universities.
Responsibilities of a Trustee
As a trustee, you owe fiduciary duties to the trust beneficiaries. This means you have a duty to act in the beneficiaries’ best interests and to not unduly benefit from the trust assets. Some trustee responsibilities may include the following:
- Abide by the terms of the trust instrument
- Avoid conflicts of interests in your trust dealings
- Not comingle your own assets with the trust property
- Separate your own accounts from the trust checking and investments accounts
- Manage and invest the trust’s assets in a low-risk, prudent manner that encourages reasonable growth if practicable
- Treat beneficiaries equally, except as indicated by the trust document
- Maintain accurate, detailed accounting and investment records
- Submit tax returns and pay all applicable taxes, fees and debts
- Retain professionals, such as lawyers, real estate brokers and accountants, as necessary
- Make regular reports to beneficiaries as to investments and account balances
Reasonably, many trusts pay the trustee a fee for these services. However, if the trust document does not provide for a fee, you may be entitled to reasonable reimbursement by order of the court.
Consult With Our Fort Myers Trust Administration Attorney About Your Role as a Trustee, Grantor or Beneficiary of a Trust
Proper administration of a trust is important to maintain the integrity of the instrument and ensure goals are being met. Schedule a consultation with Fort Myers trust administration attorney Jeffrey Attia at (239) 919-2318 for guidance with the trust administration process.