Trustee Attorney in Monmouth County
A Trustee is someone who administers a trust which is a legal relationship in which a trustee holds property for the benefit of another. A trust can be set up to benefit individuals or for a charitable purpose. Most common are trusts set up through wills to benefit a grantor’s children and family. A Trustee may be an individual or a corporate Trustee and many banks have trust departments to administer trusts. Trust property can be any kind of real or personal property – money, real estate, stocks, bonds, collections, business interests, personal possessions or other tangible assets.
There are usually three categories of parties involved in the trust arrangement – the grantor who is the person who creates the trust, the Trustee, who is the person who administers the trust, and one or more beneficiaries – the people or charities who are entitled to the benefits of the trust. A trust is essentially a contract between the grantor and the Trustee. The grantor transfers property to the Trustee for certain purposes and the Trustee agrees to manage and distribute the property in a specified way. Although the Trustee has legal title to the trust property, he or she has a legal duty to use the property as provided in the trust agreement and permitted by law. If the Trustee does not fulfill these obligations, then the beneficiaries have legal remedies to compel the Trustee to do so. This is because the beneficiaries retain equitable title, which is the right to benefit from the property as specified in the trust.
There can be a great deal of effort involved in administering a trust. In conjunction with an Executor, you may be involved in coordination about finding, consolidating and investing assets, paying debts, maintaining and distributing property, and paying taxes. You may coordinate with attorneys, accountants, financial planners and beneficiaries. The Trustee has an obligation to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, however, the beneficiaries best interests may differ from their wishes so there is sometimes the potential for conflict to develop. For example, beneficiaries may make requests that might not clearly be consistent with the terms of the will or trust. The Trustee should keep the beneficiaries informed and is accountable to them for the proper administration of the trust.
Executors and Trustees are ordinarily entitled to commissions and/or fees. The amount may be designated by the terms of the will or trust. Otherwise, they are determined by statute. New Jersey statutes provide pay scales for Trustees, all of which are subject to increase or decrease by court review. Be aware that you must include any compensation that you receive as a Trustee in your taxable income in the year that it is paid. Working with a professional trustee attorney can ensure you are following all the proper protocol when administering a trust.
Contact our firm
If you need assistance with a probate matter, contact Margaret M. Mahon, Esq. LLC. We offer free 30-minute initial consultations. Our Red Bank office provides free parking and flexible hours for appointments by request. If necessary, we can travel to meet with you.