What to Do if You’re Appointed Trustee
Your friend Rose has created a trust and she would like you to be her trustee. You want to help, but you’re concerned about all that responsibility that comes along with being appointed trustee. You would be managing Rose’s property for her and for others whom she names as beneficiaries. You might be paying her bills and taxes, overseeing bank accounts, making investments, collecting rent or unpaid debts, getting insurance if needed, and doing whatever else the trust directs you to do. People named as trustees are considered under the law as “fiduciaries.” “Fiduciary” stems from the Latin for “trust.” To merit that trust, you must act in Rose’s best interests, to the highest ethical standards of good faith and honesty.
So, you’ve been appointed trustee. Now what?
It is a lot of responsibility, but they are resources which can help in the performance of your duties as Trustee. The Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) has issued a guide: “Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help for Trustees Under a Revocable Trust.” Download your free guide here.
The leaflet emphasizes the need to document everything you do. It lists your duties, provides contact information for helpful agencies, and includes advice about what to do if you fear Rose is being exploited.
There is significant work to be done as trustee, but if you need help managing your duties, the leaflet encourages you to consult professionals like lawyers and CPAs, or a range of government agencies. You can also obtain “errors and omissions” insurance to cover you in case you make a mistake.
The person who has asked you to serve in this important role has faith in you, appreciates your ability to get along with people, and believes you can do the job. That is an honor. On the other hand, before you accept, it would be wise to go into this experience with your eyes open, to make sure you’re willing and able to accept the responsibility.
We are here to help.
If you’ve been appointed trustee, consult the leaflet first, to familiarize yourself with what is being asked of you. If you have additional questions, contact Andre O. McDonald, a knowledgeable Howard County estate planning, special-needs planning, veteran’s pension planning and Medicaid planning attorney at (443) 741-1088, to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION POSTED ON THIS BLOG IS INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE.
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