Are you among the 42 percent of Americans with an estate plan?
Thumbs up! An estate plan, be it a trust or last will and testament, is an incredibly important financial and legal plan. In the absence of an estate plan, your estate will be distributed according to the laws in your state.
If you already have an estate plan, particularly a trust, you’re certainly familiar with the role of an estate trustee. But, if you’re looking to draw on3, you might be wondering what the trustee will do for you.
Continue reading to learn more about the duties of an estate trustee.
But first off:
Who Is an Estate Trustee?
To understand who an estate trustee is, you need to understand what a trust is.
A trust is a legal entity that can own and manage assets, tangible or otherwise. When you create a trust, you flesh out instructions on how you’d wish your assets to be distributed. There are different types of trusts, including irrevocable trust, testamentary trust, and revocable living trust.
Regardless of the type of trust, you’ll typically appoint a trustee. This is the person who will be responsible for managing the estate and executing your wishes in the event that you’re incapacitated or after you pass on.
An estate trustee can be an individual, such as the spouse of the grantor, or an organization, typically a law firm, such as Lees & Lees.
With that an in mind, let’s go into detail on the duties of an estate trustee:
Managing the Affairs of an Estate
The job of an estate trustee usually starts after the grantor (the person who set up the trust) is unable to manage the affairs of their estate.
In this case, usually when the grantor is incapacitated, it’s the duty of the trustee to manage the affairs of the estate. This can include paying the debts of the state, hiring attorneys to represent the estate in any legal matters, collecting accounts receivables, and liquidating assets when necessary.
In the event of the death of the grantor, the trustee will still handle such duties until the trust is settled (where necessary).
Informing the Grantor’s Beneficiaries
The assets in a trust don’t belong to the estate trustee. They belong to the grantor, and after they have passed on, the beneficiaries.
It’s the responsibility of the trustee to find the beneficiaries and inform them about the trust and the grantor’s wishes or instructions.
Ultimately, the trustee will distribute the assets to the beneficiaries, ensuring proper transfer of ownership.
Protecting the Interests of the Grantor
It takes great trust in someone to name them as your estate trustee. As the grantor, you expect that the trustee will protect your interests all the way. As such, the trustee has a duty to serve the interests of the grantor.
The trustee shouldn’t, for instance, mix up the affairs of the estate with that of his own.
An Estate Trustee Carries Out the Terms of a Trust
A trust is an ideal way for a grantor to pass on an estate to beneficiaries. An estate trustee is central to this. They are tasked with protecting the interests of the trust owner and ensuring the terms of the trust are carried out to the latter.
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