What do trustees do?

On behalf of Scaringi Law posted in Estate Planning on Friday, October 28, 2016.

When creating an estate plan, choosing the person or people who will represent a Pennsylvania resident's interests is an important part of the process. If a trust is part of the plan, it will be necessary to choose someone to administer it. In order to make an informed choice, it might be useful to understand what trustees do.

After the trustee reviews the provisions of the trust and understands who the beneficiaries are, the financial information related to the trust will need to be reviewed to see where things stand. It will be necessary to ensure that the assets remain viable and that the trust can support beneficiaries now and in the future. Distributions will need to be made to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the trust as well, if appropriate.

The trustee will also be responsible for keeping in contact with the beneficiaries and answering any questions they might have or that could arise regarding the trust. All of the paperwork required to maintain the trust, such as tax returns and financial statements, will also need to be handled by the trustee. These duties should be outlined to the person a Pennsylvania resident is considering choosing to fill this role.

Regardless of how detailed and meticulous estate planning documents might be, if the wrong people are chosen to fill key roles -- such as trustees -- things will not go as planned. An individual should take all of the time he or she needs to make this crucial decision. Even when a choice is carefully made, things can go wrong, so the trust should contain provisions regarding how to remove a trustee and appoint a new one.

Source: Fidelity, "Executor and Trustee Guidelines", Accessed on Oct. 22, 2016

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