If a loved one asks you to serve as trustee1 or executor of their estate, you will likely feel honored that they believe you are reliable and trustworthy enough to watch over their affairs after they pass away. This honorable feeling often leads too many people to rush to answer “yes” without thoroughly considering the implications of their answer. Trustees have many different responsibilities and must abide by a strict duty of care2 when managing a trust and, often, trustees face legal disputes raised by beneficiaries. Such disputes may occur even if you never actually did anything wrong, however, even if the allegations against you are baseless, you will still have to defend against them in court. For these reasons, you should think carefully before accepting a position as trustee.
What will my responsibilities be?
A trustee has many different responsibilities and duties that can vary depending on the specific details of the trust in question. Some common responsibilities include:
- Taking inventory of trust assets and protecting them
- Knowing and following all instructions in the trust instrument
- Having open communication with trust beneficiaries about all trust activities
- Remaining impartial to all trust beneficiaries
- Distributing the assets of the trusts as instructed
- Investing and managing all remaining trust assets in good faith
- Wrapping up and closing the trust when required
These responsibilities can require significant time and energy. If you do not have the adequate time to properly manage the trust assets, you could face accusations of mismanagement. Additionally, you must always remain impartial in your trustee activities. If you have close relationships with some beneficiaries and have had conflict with others in the past, it may be a good idea to allow someone else to serve as trustee.
Consult with the experienced British Columbia trust and estates lawyer today
Accepting a trustee position is a big decision and you should never hesitate to consult with an experienced lawyer when deciding whether to accept. If you do accept the position, you should always seek the advice of a trust and estates lawyer to prevent or defend any legal disputes. Call the Vancouver office of McLarty Wolf at 604-688-9542 today to discuss your situation.