A Trustee is a person or entity (such as a Trust Company) who has been appointed to control the assets of a Trust.
If you have been chosen as a Trustee, the person who has entrusted you (commonly referred to a Grantor, Trustor, or Settlor) feels that you can be trusted to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries named in the Trust and can manage this important role if and/or when you may be required to so act.
Trusts can come in many forms typically set out in a Trust Agreement. As Trustee, you are required to understand the terms of the Trust so that you can follow the rules of the Trust. If you are appointed with other individuals as a joint Trustee or co-Trustee, typically all decisions must be unanimous unless the Trust Agreement has specific decision making requirements.
If you are an Executor named in a Last Will and Testament, upon the death of the will-maker (known as a Testator) you are appointed as the Trustee of the deceased’s property and your duties fall under the duties of an Executor. Please see our blog about the role and duties of an Executor for more information.
Bearing in mind that a Trust can come in many forms (be it Living Trust, Testamentary Trust, etc.) a Trustee has many responsibilities that can be placed upon him/her, a few of which are outlined as follows:
- Obey and follow the rules and powers set out in the Trust Agreement
- Registering Trust Property into the Trustee’s name
- Prudently investing Trust Property without personal gain or causing loss to the Trust
- Liaising with other Trustees to act in the best interests of beneficiaries
- Acting impartially when a trust is established to benefit a number of beneficiaries
- Holding annual meetings and maintaining accurate accounting and decision records
- Completing annual tax returns or engaging a professional to assist in completion
Have you been appointed as a Trustee? It is strongly recommended that you seek professional advice particularly when making investments so as not put yourself in a position of conflict with your own personal interests and/or those of the beneficiaries.