What is a Trustee?
A trust can be set up for many reasons. Sometimes a trust is used to protect assets in the event of death, set aside assets for the benefit of a minor, or to handle the affairs of someone who has special needs. It is important to understand the desired goals for the trust so that the trustee can carry out their duties effectively. The trustee acts as a custodian to administer the assets in the trust, make disbursements according the provisions of the trust, file taxes on behalf of the trust, and follows all other terms established in the trust. This role is a fiduciary role and there are ethical and legal responsibilities associated with these duties, so you’ll want to be sure that the Trustee understands the role and implications.
Choosing the Right Trustee
A person over the age of 18 can be named as a Trustee for your trust. Being trustee of a trust may be very different from anything you have done in the past. Therefore, there are some things to consider fore you choose the trustee for your circumstances.
- Option 1: Family or Friend. Choosing a family member or friend that you deeply trust can provide peace of mind. However, there are also inherent family dynamics that must be considered. Will other family members resent having to go to this person to ask for disbursements? Will the beneficiaries of the trust challenge the decisions of the trustee? These family dynamics often make choosing a family or friend as the trustee somewhat problematic. For these reasons, many people choose option 2 or 3 below.
- Option 2: Lawyer/Attorney. If you do not have a family or friend, or do not wish to place them in the middle of family dynamics, your lawyer or attorney may be a good option. They can administer the trust without bias. In addition, they may be familiar with your original intentions along with family dynamics. As a non-partial third party, family may respect their decisions more and closely adhere to their guidance. Obviously, there are fees associated with having an independent third party as your trustee, but the benefits may far outweigh the costs.
Special Needs Trust
When a family member has special needs, a trust can help ensure that they receive all of the benefits of the trust, while protecting their access to public benefits. The rules of trust administration and public benefits eligibility can be complex. A special needs trust is created to hold and use assets for a beneficiary in way that will exclude these assets from being counted as available resources in determining eligibility for certain public benefits. The attorneys at Frame & Frame, LLC can help provide counsel to trustees or beneficiaries to ensure a trust is being administered properly.
Fiduciary Services & Trust Administration
The attorneys at Frame & Frame offer fiduciary services and trust administration to provide ongoing legal support as counsel to trustees of trusts and our attorneys are also available to serve as trustees. Often, the attorneys at Frame & Frame serve as a professional fiduciary or as a back-up fiduciary in the event that a loved one or family member has pre-deceased a trust beneficiary.
If you are the current beneficiary of a trust and want to understand how the document affects you or your available rights, the attorneys at Frame & Frame are available to review the documents and consult with you accordingly. We are also happy to review your current estate planning documents and how they may relate to your situation. We can then advise on any proposed changes or updates to be made.
Get Started Today!
If you are currently serving as a trustee and need guidance on the best way to manage your responsibilities, or if you are a current beneficiary of a trust and want to understand how the trust functions and your associated rights, or if you are seeking a potential professional fiduciary to serve, then the attorneys at Frame and Frame would be happy to assist. Get started by downloading free legal guides or scheduling a consultation.