The Role of a Trustee: Answering Your Questions

millman law group role of a trustee

Learn more about the role of a trustee and what you can expect.

While you may be familiar with the role of a Trustee and its importance to your estate, you may need to understand what that role fully entails. If you comprehend what is expected of a Trustee, you can more easily select a Trustee you can rely on for your own estate. If you are preparing to serve as a Trustee for someone else, this guide can help you know what to expect. The Millman Law Group is here to answer your questions about Trustees and guide you through the estate planning and trust administration process. 

Can a Trustee Be Held Personally Liable? 

Generally, yes, a trustee can be held liable. He or she is entrusted with making all decisions in the Trust’s best interest and on behalf of the beneficiaries. Trustees can protect themselves by keeping accurate and detailed records of every financial transaction and distribution. The best thing a Trustee can do is to have a solid understanding of the Trust’s instructions. 

What Is The Difference Between a Trustee and a Beneficiary? 

The difference between these two roles in an estate is simple. A beneficiary benefits from the Trust, while a Trustee is in charge of that Trust. Trusts are formed to benefit someone (often a child, family member, or charity). Trustees are responsible for managing all the assets and property inside the Trust and distributing assets as needed to the beneficiaries named in the Trust. 

How Are The Trustee and Personal Representative Different? 

The differences between a Trustee and a Personal Representative are similar to those between Trusts and Wills. A Trustee administers a Trust, handling the assets inside the Trust and distributing them as the Trust directs. A Personal Representative, or Executor, oversees and manages the estate by distributing a deceased person’s assets as dictated by the Will. 

What Is a Successor Trustee? 

A Successor Trustee is a person named second in line to serve as Trustee. The person who creates the Trust is typically the Trustee until they are incapacitated or die. At that time, the Successor Trustee then steps in. If the Successor Trustee cannot serve the role, it can be wise to name an alternate in case anything changes. 

How Long Does a Trustee Have to Settle a Trust? 

A Trustee has as long as they need to settle a Trust if they are acting in a timely manner and in a way directed by the Trust. Most Trusts take 12-18 months to settle and distribute all the assets fully. It generally takes at least six months to settle a trust; however, it is often longer. The time it takes will depend on how complicated the Trust is, what provisions may be required, and how old beneficiaries are. For example, a Trust created for the benefit of minors may be active for years until the child or children reach a certain age noted in the Trust. 

How Does a Trustee Get Paid? 

A Trustee is paid what is deemed “reasonable compensation” to perform the necessary duties. Trustees are paid out of the Trust’s assets, and occasionally, the Trust will define the compensation amount. 

When you understand the role of a Trustee, you can better select the Trustee for your Trust or perform this role yourself. If you want to trust a professional in the role of Trustee, you can also count on your Millman Law Group attorney to serve as an impartial trustee who can manage assets for your beneficiaries. Contact us today to learn more about what your estate and trust planning attorney can do for you!

Estate Planning Made Easy With Millman Law Group

Millman Law Group, PLLC is rare because it’s one of the only law firms that offer life planning in South Florida. From life care planning to the preparation of detailed estate plans, Millman Law Group has committed to serving Floridian elderly communities in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Ocean Ridge, Hillsboro Beach, and many other areas since 2018. Our dedicated team also specializes in special needs Trusts and catering to any age demographic because we know for certain it’s never too early to start preparing you and your family for your future. For the latest news in estate planning and elder care law, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Pinterest. You can also contact us at 561-463-6480.