It’s an honor when your friend or family member asks you to serve as their trustee. What that means is that they are entrusting you to properly handle key assets upon their death—suggesting that they view you as someone who is trustworthy and responsible.
With that said, serving as a trustee isn’t something you should agree to lightly. There are real responsibilities, and it’s important to make sure you know what you’re getting into—and, that you’re up for the challenge.
Talking with an estate planning lawyer can be helpful; in addition, we encourage you to review some of the guidelines in this post.
In creating a trust, your friend or loved one is essentially setting up the legal means by which they can transfer assets to another party—the beneficiary. As the trustee, your job would be to manage these assets and ensure they are transferred in accordance with your loved one’s wishes. When your loved one dies, you become the legal owner of that trust.
The specific duties of the trustee can vary, but some common examples include:
That list may seem a little daunting, but the good news is, trustees don’t have to go it alone. While you have all the legal responsibility of managing the trust, you are free to seek the expertise of an estate planning lawyer. Additionally, accountants can help you properly fill out the trust’s tax return. And in most cases, the expenses associated with these outside experts can be paid for from the trust itself.
Most people who are asked to serve as trustee agree to do so after all, it’s quite an honor. With that said, there are some situations in which you may want to think twice before agreeing to be a trustee. These include:
If you’re still unsure about whether to serve as trustee, or if you simply want more information about what the role might entail, we invite you to reach out to the estate planning attorneys at Singh Law Firm. Contact us today with any trust-related questions or concerns.