While it may seem a bit morbid to discuss what happens after one’s death while they are still living, there are many cases where it is of utmost importance. When one has a great deal of assets, be it property, financial, etc., it is crucial for them, as the trustor or settlor, to name someone as a trustee, or someone responsible for managing the trust. Voluntarily agreeing to be a trustee comes with its fair share of responsibilities. Let’s dive into what those duties look like
All of the trustee’s legal obligations should be clearly stated in the trust. Deciphering these, as the trustee, or naming these duties, as the trustor, should not be as overwhelming as one may think. With the help of a lawyer, a trust can be drawn up or explained in no time, ensuring every detail has been covered. It should be stated in the trust whether the trustee will be compensated or not. Generally, trustees are compensated, as the work required by this role can often be extensive.
- File tax returns and keep accurate records of trust.
- Invest properly, if stated by trust.
- Ensure trust is not mixed in with personal assets
- Unless otherwise stated by trust, treat all beneficiaries equally and fairly.
- The trust is not to be used to benefit the trustee, unless the trustee is also named the beneficiary.
The trustee’s responsibilities will look different from time to time. While the trustor is alive and in great health, the only duty the trustee has is to meet with the trustor and accept the task of being trustee, should anything happen. But what will they have to do if the trustor is incapacitated?
- Make certain that the trustor is well cared for in terms of medical care.
- Stay well-informed regarding the insurance details of the trustor.
- If someone is named to make health decisions for the trustor, be sure they are aware of the status of the trustor.
- In some cases, ensuring proper care for minors or applying for disability benefits may fall under the trustee’s responsibility.
Should the trustor pass away, the trustee should:
- Call the attorney to go over the trust with them.
- Gather a team of advisors.
- Keep beneficiaries abreast of the trust details.
- Conduct final inventory to define final value of assets.
- Pay bills, complete tax returns and collect trustor’s benefits.
- Distribute assets to beneficiaries according to the trust.
It is easy to write off needing to nail down the details of what happens to someone’s property after they are deceased, but it is a very important task that warrants undivided attention. Naming a trustee for your assets will not only ensure your family or friends are well cared for after you have passed, but it will also make life easier for your survivors knowing they do not have to make the difficult decisions. Being named a trustee may not be easy, but it’s a perfect opportunity to be a blessing for a family that needs someone with a more objective perspective to carry on the trustor’s wishes.
Mestayer Law Firm provides civil litigation for clients throughout the Gulf Coast area including Pascagoula, Biloxi and Gulfport. Call us today at 228-762-1193 or visit www.pascagoulalaw.com. We are your legal experts! You can also visit our office located at 2128 Ingalls Ave. in Pascagoula, Mississippi. We look forward to talking with you!
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This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am licensed to practice law in Mississippi and have based the information presented on US laws. This article is legal information and is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information. Any information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but that there may be omissions errors or mistakes.