What Is the Role of a Trustee in Estate Planning?

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When you decide to set up a trust to benefit your loved ones in the future, you will also have to appoint a trustee. Put simply, a trustee will make sure that your trust is properly administered. Continue reading to learn more about the role of a trustee and how an experienced Red Bank, NJ trustee attorney at Margaret M. Mahon, Esq., LLC can help you in determining yours.

What role does a trustee play in estate planning?

As a further explanation, once you appoint a trustee, they then assume the responsibility of ensuring that your beneficiaries receive the trust property that you have granted them in your trust. Trust property can be any kind of real property or personal property, and examples are as follows:

  • Your money.
  • Your real estate.
  • Your stocks, bonds, collections, and/or business interests.
  • Your personal possessions and/or tangible assets.

And so, a trustee has the legal title to your trust property but must still manage it only as agreed upon in your trust agreement. And when the time comes, they must administer your trust property to rightful beneficiaries. An example of how the role of a trustee may become important in your estate planning is if you have children that are too young to receive your assets and use them responsibly. With this, your assigned trustee will manage your assets and allow them to be inherited at an age-appropriate time.

Notably, your trustee can either be an individual whom you trust or a corporate trustee. That is, many banks have trust departments set to administer trusts.

What other roles does a trustee play in estate planning?

In addition to managing and distributing your trust property accordingly, your trustee may also hold the following responsibilities:

  • Your trustee may have to find, consolidate, and invest your assets.
  • Your trustee may have to pay off your debts or taxes.
  • Your trustee may have to coordinate with attorneys, accountants, financial planners, and beneficiaries.
  • Your trustee will have to keep the beneficiaries informed on the terms of the trust.

What happens if a trustee does not fulfill their roles?

Unfortunately, there have been instances in which trustees have not met the responsibilities that grantors have entrusted them with. If you are a beneficiary and you believe that a trustee has not fulfilled their legal obligations, then there may be legal remedies at your disposal. That is, as a beneficiary, you retain an equitable title, meaning that you have the right to benefit from the property as specified in a trust agreement.

For more information on how to receive the trust property that is rightfully yours, reach out to a skilled Monmouth County estate planning attorney today.