A trustee must act with care and in a position of trust, since they will be granted certain powers in handling a person’s estate. One of the primary and most basic duties a trustee will have is reading a trust document and taking time to understand what is within the contents. A trustee may have a list of general responsibilities, but the trust creator ultimately can limit or extend the trustee’s power of authority. A trustee that doesn’t act in the best interests of the trust creator may find themselves in a complicated lawsuit filed by the trustor or trust beneficiaries.
Duties that are common for trustees include but may not be limited to:
Maintain Timely and Accurate Reports
A trustee will have to keep accurate records, in addition to providing reports to beneficiaries as instructed in the trust. Beneficiaries are entitled to being informed about changes to the account, the trust, and its assets. The account should describe the assets as owned by the trustee, as well as receipts of recent distributions. The trustee will need to be organized in order to uphold timely and accurate reports, so they can avoid action being taken by beneficiaries for poor estate management.
Not Utilize Trust for Personal Gain
If the trustee chosen is not a beneficiary or grantor, then they are not allowed to use the property for the benefit of themselves. The trustee cannot steal assets or act with recklessness, or use assets property/money in a way that is frowned upon by beneficiaries. A trustee has a moral and legal obligation to the trust creator to not be motivated by personal gain.
Treat Each Beneficiary Equally
Unless a trust specifically says that some beneficiaries are to be treated differently from others, the trustee has to ensure that all are treated equally. For instance, a trustee cannot allow for reasonable requests from one beneficiary and not others, and they cannot deny or delay granting beneficiary inquiries based on favoritism.