If you have a trustworthy, unbiased, knowledgeable and experienced family member you have chosen as your trustee you are one of the lucky ones. This is rare. Congratulations! But consider this: Will your trustee want the job?
Your trustee must perform all of the following duties or beneficiaries may SUE:
*obtain, control and safeguard the trust and other important documents.
*establish possession of, control and safeguard ALL trust assets.
*prosecute or defend all claims for or against the trust and YOU.
*make correct and appropriate investment decisions to obtain a REASONABLE RETURN and have enough cash available for distributions to beneficiaries.
*actively MANAGE any real property or business interests.
*make required distributions and use discretion to REFUSE distributions where appropriate.
*prepare and deliver informative and accurate annual ACCOUNTINGS and reports to beneficiaries.
*keep trust assets SEGREGATED.
*prepare and file TAX RETURNS.
*pay all trust bills and MINIMIZE trust expenses.
*refrain from delegating all of the trust duties to other people.
*make decisions to benefit the beneficiaries and NOT in the interest of the Trustee.
Beneficiaries are typically “back seat drivers” and often sue the Trustee over failing to safeguard personal property, failure to prosecute claims, failure to obtain a reasonable return on investments, failure to properly manage real property, failure to make distributions or failure to refrain from making distributions, failure to account and report, commingling, failure to minimize expenses, delegating too little, delegating too much, and making decisions which benefit the trustee.
So will your trustee want the job? And if your trustee wants the job, is this the best choice? Choosing a trustee in a state with income tax may cause the trust assets to be taxed in that jurisdiction between your death and final distribution. California, for example, has that law on the books (California Revenue and taxation Code Section 17743). Does your trustee have the time, financial knowledge, experience, strength to stand up to the beneficiaries and disposition to communicate with the beneficiaries? Since your trustee is allowed a “reasonable” fee, will it be to much? Will your trustee be around long enough in good mental and physical health to see the job through?
Again, if you are lucky enough to have a trustee who wants the job and is the best choice for the job, then congratulations! If you do not have such a person available, then consider using the Law Firm of Spees & Spees as your trustee. We have experience in every aspect of trust administration and currently serve as trustees over many estates. We secure all trust assets and documents, manage trust assets including investments and real estate, prosecute and defend claims, prepare tax returns, communicate, account, and report to beneficiaries, and make approriate distributions.
If you would like us to serve as your trustee, we will amend your trust at no charge to make this change only.
Email Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.