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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Durable Powers of Attorney
    If you become incapacitated, who is supposed to make decisions for you about the management of your property or your health care? A durable power of attorney allows someone you designate to act on your behalf. It is usually included as... Read more.
  • Effect of Separation and Divorce on Estates and Trusts
    Most people are aware that a surviving spouse is usually entitled to inherit all or a large portion of the estate of a deceased spouse. Fewer understand the effect on estates if one spouse dies during a legal separation or after a... Read more.
  • The Effect of Inheritance on Child Support Payments
    The federal Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 requires each state to develop its own set of systematic guidelines for calculating awards of child support. Generally, state child support guidelines are based on the parents’... Read more.
  • The Judicial Doctrine of Equitable Adoption
    In general terms, the judicial doctrine of “equitable adoption” recognizes a valid parent-child relationship in the absence of a formal adoption procedure, holding a person who has acted like a child’s parent for a... Read more.
Estate Planning News Links

Duties of a Trustee

Every trust must have a trustee to properly administer the elements of the trust. Trustees can be individuals, financial institutions or even organizations.

A trustee follows the precise instructions of the trustor (or the trustor’s authorized representative), and also adheres to rules imposed by law.

Prudent Person Rule

Trustees are subject to the “prudent person” rule. This rule states that trustees should use the same standard of care and diligence that any sensible person would use in managing property. Additionally, a trustee should make a strong effort and utilize all of his/her skills in caring for the trustor’s property.


A trustee has the duty to accomplish the following:

  • Administer internal affairs
  • Manage property
  • Invest property
  • Distribute income and principal
  • Deal with beneficiaries impartially
  • Use discretion over the important areas of the trust


A trustee has a fiduciary duty to the trust’s beneficiaries as well as to the trustor. In dealing with beneficiaries, a trustee should:

  • Use property only for the beneficiaries’ interest
  • Disclose important facts
  • Provide additional information related to the trust upon request of the beneficiaries

Improper Activity

A trustee should not:

  • Use trust property for personal benefit or purposes not related to the trust
  • Acquire interests in conflict with those of the beneficiary
  • Sell property to himself/herself
  • Delegate his/her duties to another individual

If a trustee is suspected of improper activity or misuse of his/her discretionary decision-making powers, the court will review the trustee’s actions after a petition is filed by the trustor or any beneficiary. A trustee may also petition the court for a review if beneficiaries question his/her decisions.

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