What are the duties of a trustee?

As a trustee in Michigan, you agreed to take care of certain tasks for the settlor. According to the National Paralegal College, you must perform your responsibilities with the level of care that you would use if the property or assets in question were your own. If you are not a professional fiduciary, you would not be held to the same standard that would be expected from a trust company or financial institution. However, you could be held personally accountable for losses that come about because of any negligence in your duties.

You may have the ability to delegate some of the functions to professionals, which could be particularly beneficial if you are not trained to manage investments or similar assets. You are still obligated to make sure that any delegated tasks are performed correctly by the person or institution you hired, as well as to provide a regular record of the expenses, assets and losses to the beneficiaries, and to the court.

When it comes to the duty to invest the assets of the estate so that it provides income for the beneficiaries, your choices must be consistent with the goals of the trust, and they must be prudent. For example, an imprudent action may be to fail to diversify since that increases the risk that the investment could be lost.

You must never put your own interests above those of the beneficiaries. As the trustee, you owe them your loyalty, and any self-dealing such as receiving a bonus or commission in the course of your duties is not allowed. This is not a complete list of your duties to the beneficiaries as a trustee, but the information is provided to give you a general idea of your responsibilities. It should not be taken as legal advice.