Being a trustee is a big responsibility and if you don’t perform your duties properly, you could be personally liable. That’s why it’s important to hire the right attorney and other experts to guide you in this important role.
A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, like a bank or lawfirm), called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. If you have been appointed the trustee of a trust, this is a strong vote of confidence in your judgment.
A trustee’s duties include locating and protecting trust assets, investing assets prudently, distributing assets to beneficiaries, keeping track of income and expenditures, and filing taxes. As a trustee, you have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust, meaning that you have an obligation to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries at all times. It also means you will be held to a higher standard than if you were just dealing with your own finances.
A trustee often hires an attorney (and other professionals like an accountant) to help with trust administration. The trust instrument will generally allow you to pay for the attorney’s fees from the trust funds. While hiring an attorney will cost money, not having an attorney at all could cost a trustee much more if errors are made.
You can administer a trust without court involvement, but that does not mean trust administration is simple. California law requires trustees to perform certain tasks and governs a trustee’s responsibilities and duties alongside the trust documents.
I have years of experience counseling and guiding fiduciaries, and would be honored to advise you.