Maxine Aaronson, Attorney at Law
Attorneys discussing a case. Glasses resting on documents depicting charts/diagrams. The word 'strategy' is highlighted. Puzzles coming together.

Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Cy Pres Doctrine
    If you create an estate planning document leaving property to a charity, but after your death the transfer cannot occur, the court may apply the cy pres rule. The words “cy pres” are French for “as near.”... Read more.
  • The "Fraud Rectifying" Trust Remedy
    A constructive trust is a remedy imposed by the court when a person has wrongfully attained property. The court basically takes the property away from the wrongful owner and puts it in trust for the rightful owner. In the estate... Read more.
  • Divorced and Separated Spouses' Right to Inherit
    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.
  • Benefits of Purchasing Life Insurance
    There are numerous uses for life insurance. Some are obvious; others are very creative. Some of the most common uses include paying estate taxes, estate administration, inheritance equalizing and many others. Estate Taxes... Read more.
Estate Planning News Links

A Trustee's Role

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.

Responsibilities

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

Beneficiaries

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.