What do trustees do during the estate planning process?

appointing trustees

While many are familiar with creating a will, they may underestimate the benefits of a trust. This is one of the most beneficial estate planning tools, as it grants your more control over the distribution of your assets. However, you’ll need to narrow down who you want to serve as your trustee, as this person is responsible for managing the assets within the trust. Choosing trustees may seem like a simple process, but there are many nuances that can make this more complex than it seems. Luckily, PA trust attorneys can help walk you through the process to ensure your trust is impenetrable.

What are trustees?

Trustees fulfill an essential role in the estate planning process, as they assume a number of responsibilities in order to manage someone’s trust as they become the legal owner. They have a very active role in the estate planning process, and they receive compensation for their duties from assets and funds in the trust.

Some responsibilities of a trustee include the following:

  • Handling and distributing the assets in a trust
  • Filing taxes
  • Distributing the assets to the appropriate beneficiaries
  • Resolving conflicts of interest

Who can fulfill the role?

Generally, anyone can fulfill the role of a trustee, making it easy to name someone you are comfortable with. The only requirements to appoint someone as a trustee are that they must be a legal adult, a United States citizen, and of sound mind to serve.

Under these guidelines, you can choose virtually anyone to be your trustee. This includes adult children, siblings, or family friends. You can also select an entity like a bank or other financial institution, which tend to be ideal options for those with extensive ad complicated trusts. However, many appoint themselves as trustee when they set up a revocable living trust. If you choose to appoint yourself, you should name a successor should you become incapacitated or pass away.

Should I enlist the help of an attorney?

When setting up a trust and naming a trustee, you should do so under the guidance of an experienced attorney. Even if your estate contains a few assets and seems straightforward, the laws surrounding a trust vary from state to state. This means you may make an error that invalidates the document, leaving your beneficiaries without the assets you want them to have. Similarly, some attorneys offer estate administration services, meaning you can name one of the partners as your trustee.

If you want to create a trust, naming a trustee is one of the most crucial steps. Though it can be overwhelming to grant legal control over your assets to another person, this is an essential step in the process. At Friedman Schuman, we understand that creating a trust can be complex and confusing. Our legal team is dedicated to making this as simple as possible so you can secure peace of mind for the future. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

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