When people are planning their trusts and estates, they should fully understand the duties a selected trustee will have when they are deciding whom to choose. When a trustee accepts the job of administering estate, he or she will be taking on several important duties. A good trustee should be someone who is trustworthy and organized so that he or she may appropriately complete all that is expected.
The first duty of a trustee is to administer the estate. Administration involves such things as taking a full accounting and inventory of all property owned by the trust and ensuring that it is administered for the benefit of the named beneficiaries. Trustees owe a duty of loyalty to the beneficiaries, and if there is more than one, they have the responsibility of treating each separate beneficiary impartially.
Trustees are expected to prudently invest trust property in a way that it maintains the trust awhile generating income for the beneficiaries. Trustees should never intermingle trust assets with their own nor make investments for the purpose of their own personal enrichment. Trustees should be able to provide a full accounting of all trust assets, investments and income to the beneficiaries upon request and should distribute all assets and income to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust.
Trust administration is an important role. If the selected trustee makes poor investment decisions or demonstrates partiality, the trust may end up being subjected to contention and dispute. When a person is setting up a trust, it may be advisable to have a discussion about potential trustees with an estate planning attorney. An attorney may be able to help select a person who will be a good fit.
Source: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, “Subchapter H Duties and Powers of Trustee“, November 23, 2014