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A Duty Checklist for Trustees of a Trust

Ali Katz


It’s no misnomer that a position with so much responsibility carries the name “trustee”. After all, you have been entrusted with a solemn responsibility and you no doubt want to do the best possible job.

Here are 10 things to do when you are appointed trustee of a trust:

1. Read the trust document, which sets out the rules that govern how you will manage and administer the trust. Be sure you understand these rules completely.
2. Create a checking account for the trust. A separate checking account for the trust should be used to handle all expenses and income, and will enable you to track distributions and payments.
3. Keep the beneficiary’s best interests in mind. You have a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries to perform your duties according to the law and in their best interest.
4. Do not borrow from the trust. You should never use the trust for your own personal needs.
5. Provide an annual report. You will owe an accounting at least annually to all beneficiaries and anyone else with an interest in the trust.
6. Invest the funds prudently. Diversify the portfolio among stocks and fixed income securities. Unless you are an investment professional, it is wise to get professional advice.
7. Understand the needs of the beneficiaries. Stay in regular contact with the beneficiaries so you understand their needs.
8. Be aware of any conflict with public benefits. Be sure you are aware of any beneficiary receiving public benefits to ensure any distribution does not disqualify them from those benefits.
9. File income tax returns. You are required to file an annual income tax return on behalf of the trust.
10. Get advice. Call us to ensure you are fulfilling your role as trustee correctly and legally. All of our fees are flat fees, agreed to in advance, based on the size of the Estate. If you are the trustee of a plan we created, you receive a free review session with us to ensure you know exactly how to handle things and up to a 50% discount on trust administration after the death of the Grantor.