Taking control and being responsible for administering a trust can be an overwhelming task. The role of a trustee is a significant one. If you fail to fulfill your duties effectively and efficiently, you may be personally responsible for any errors made during the administration process. Beneficiaries will have the right to seek compensation for any resulting losses they experience by filing claims against you in a California civil court.
A trustee has many obligations to the trust. Such obligations are also known as fiduciary duties. What are these duties? How can an attorney help you fulfill your role? What can you do to protect yourself should something go wrong during trust administration?
Fiduciary duty simply means that the trustee is responsible for upholding the terms set forth in the trust document. As a trustee, you are somewhat limited in what you can do. This designation is not a free pass to do whatever you wish with the trust placed in your care.
Feeling unsure about exactly what the law expects of you as a trustee is okay. No one expects you to fully understand the laws regarding trust administration. Fortunately, you don't have to tackle your responsibilities alone. You may seek legal counsel who can guide you through the process so that you can ensure that you fulfill your responsibilities in administering the trust.
Document everything. This point can't be stressed enough. By keeping documentation of everything you do, and to where, when and to whom the distribution of assets occurs, you are keeping a written record that can help you should anyone accuse you of making any mistakes or of abusing your power.
Afraid you'll make a mistake? As a trustee, you may have access to errors and omissions insurance. Those who want more information on this can discuss it with their legal counsel.
Take a deep breath
At first, administering a trust may seem like a simple and straightforward job. However, when you really get into it, you may find it is not as easy as you expected. A lot of issues, such as trust contests, may occur that could throw you off your guard. While the role of a trustee is most certainly a challenging one, take a deep breath, you can get through it successfully.