So You've Been Named as Trustee…Now What?


Caitlin E. Abram+1 612 766

You've just discovered that you've been named trustee of a trust. Not only are you unsure of whether you should accept, you're also wondering what exactly the role entails, the types of problems you might face, and whether you'll receive compensation. A trusteeship is a significant responsibility, and if you accept, you'll need to carefully read the trust instrument and carry out your fiduciary duties under state and federal laws. As trustee, your responsibilities will include:

  • Investing the trust assets
  • Making distributions
  • Paying taxes
  • Asserting and defending against claims against the trust
  • Communicating with beneficiaries
  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Seeking assistance when necessary

Trustees are often the targets of beneficiary litigation, so in addition to knowing and complying with your legal fiduciary duties, there are certain practical steps you can take to protect yourself from liability, including following logical decision-making processes, acting transparently, keeping clear records, and obtaining beneficiary or court approval of your conduct...