The trustee holds the legal title to your property or assets and manages them for you. Even if you become disabled, the trustee will continue to carry out your instructions. After your death, the trustee goes into immediate action; he makes sure that all debts, claims, or taxes are paid, and that your beneficiaries receive everything your trust document specifies.
A trustee must carry out a number of specific legal duties, which all point to the cardinal rule of trusteeships: a trustee must only do things that benefit the beneficiaries, and never do anything to harm them. To make sure this rule is followed, always choose someone who is honest.
The specific ways that a trustee must benefit the beneficiaries define a legal code of conduct. Legally a trustee must:
Avoid any behavior that will create an unauthorized conflict of interest
Abide by the terms if the trust document unless they are illegal
Never use the trust property for personal gain, unless the trust terms grant permission.
Maintain separation between the trust property and other properties.
Supervise those delegated if he does have to delegate.
Distinguish between the interest and the principle if the trust says to distribute them differently.
All of these responsibilities can be carried out while you, as the settler, are still living. However, sometimes a trustee does not move into the role until after you die. This is because you can appoint yourself as the main trustee but name a successor.
Managing a trust in this way allows you to control the property as long as you are alive, while knowing that someone is waiting to take over when you can no longer manage the assets yourself.
The trustee, successor or not, will take over other important duties after you die. He will:
Take an inventory of assets and determine how much they are worth.
Sell some of the property if necessary to pay final bills.
Take care of any tax issues.
As you can see, the role of the trustee is pivotal. You must choose the right person since the role is sometimes abused. If you are thinking about creating a trust, discuss it with a qualified attorney who has extensive knowledge and experience in this area.
The Law Office of Richard Nevins will help you explore your many options, so that you can choose the one that benefits you the most. Call the office to set up your appointment and fill out our form, so that we can give you expert advice based on your specific needs.