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Heritage Tree LogoWhat Are My Responsibilities as a Trustee?

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With the existence of a trust comes the involvement of three parties: a grantor, a trustee, and a beneficiary. Arguably, a trustee is tasked with the most responsibility to ensure the trust is executed properly. So if you are propositioned to be a trustee for your loved one’s trust, you must think long and hard before agreeing to it. Continue reading to learn your roles and responsibilities as a trustee and how one of the experienced Butler County trust attorneys at Heritage Elder Law & Estate Planning, LLC can help you determine whether you are cut out to fill this position.

What are my roles and responsibilities as a trustee?

A trustee is essentially the “middleman” between a trust’s grantor and beneficiary. That is, a grantor is an individual who is the creator of the trust and who initially contributes their assets to the trust. Then, a beneficiary is an individual for whom the trust is created and inherits the trust’s assets upon a grantor’s passing.

This makes a trustee an individual in charge of managing the trust’s assets in a beneficiary’s best interest and as outlined by a grantor in the trust’s terms and conditions. Essentially, as a trustee, you may be considered the legal owner of the trust’s assets. This makes your responsibilities entail handling the tax filings for the trust and distributing the trust’s assets to a beneficiary when the time is right, among other things.

What should I reflect on before accepting this responsibility?

You must understand that not everyone is cut out to take on the roles and responsibilities of a trustee. What’s more, not everyone is willing to take this on. This is all to say that you must not agree to be your loved one’s trustee simply to appease them. Rather, you must deeply reflect on your ability and readiness. That is, you must ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have sufficient knowledge or education in finances (i.e., filing Pennsylvania and federal taxes)?
  • Do I have sufficient knowledge or education in law (i.e., Pennsylvania and federal estate law)?
  • Do I have any employment or family obligations that may conflict with taking on this responsibility?
  • Do I know how to effectively resolve conflicts that may arise with a beneficiary down the line?
  • Do I foresee myself living close enough to handle a grantor’s real property down the line?
  • Do I foresee my ethics aligning with the terms and conditions a grantor has laid out?
  • Do I have a healthy relationship with the appointed beneficiary of the trust?

You may rest easier knowing that one of the skilled Butler County estate planning & probate attorneys can be the support system you need during this complicated time. So please call us at Heritage Elder Law & Estate Planning, LLC today.

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