One of the most important decisions a Settlor must make when creating a trust is who to appoint as the Trustee. In fact, a common mistake people make is appointing a spouse or close friend as Trustee without taking the time to consider if that individual has the experienced and/or skills to successfully serve as the Trustee. Sometimes, appointing a professional Trustee is the better choice. The overall job of a Trustee is to manage and invest trust assets and to oversee the administration of the trust. Generally, the reason behind appointing the wrong person as Trustee is a lack of understanding of the numerous and varied duties and responsibilities of a Trustee, such as:
- Following all trust terms unless they are illegal or unconscionable.
- Communicating with beneficiaries.
- Resolving disputes among beneficiaries.
- Investing trust assets using the “prudent investor” standard.
- Managing trust assets.
- Distributing trust assets.
- Keeping trust records.
- Preparing and filing trust taxes.
- Defending the trust against legal challenges.