When someone is appointed as a trustee for an estate, the position comes with multiple duties and responsibilities. Because of the numerous tasks involved, it is important that a selected trustee be someone who is honest, trustworthy and organized.

The first job a trustee will have is to administer the trust according to its terms and in the interests of the beneficiaries. A trustee owes a duty of loyalty to the beneficiaries. He or she may not invest money from the trust account for his or her own personal gain unless authorized to do so by the court or by the beneficiaries.

When there is more than one trust beneficiary, the trustee must treat each one with impartiality. Trustees also must administer the trust in a prudent fashion, taking reasonable care and caution with investments and distributions. In order to fulfill his or her duties, a trustee may delegate part of his or her functions to an agent. If he or she does so, he or she then has a duty to regularly monitor the agent to ensure the agent is acting with reasonable care as well. Trustees must carefully control and manage all trust property. They must keep good records and take a complete inventory of the property contained within the trust. Trust property must be kept separate from the trustee’s own property.

Trustees have a fiduciary relationship with the beneficiaries of the trust they administer. In order to ensure the estate administration is being conducted appropriately, beneficiaries are able to request records and to examine them upon the request. Selecting a good trustee is important when a person is setting up a trust. A trustee should be trustworthy and willing to accept his or her role in administering the estate. People may benefit by seeking help from their estate attorney to select a trustee.

Luis E. Barreto