What Are the Duties of a Trustee?

A trust makes a solid estate planning tool. This type of arrangement allows you to put assets in a trust and assign a trustee. Upon your death, the trustee will manage the ownership of the assets in the trust, and he or she has the responsibility to distribute the assets in the trust to the beneficiary you chose. 

Sometimes, the trustee’s job ends quickly as he or she will only need to verify the assets in the trust and transfer ownership to your heir. In other cases, though, the trustee maintains the trust for quite some time. This could be because the heir is not old enough to take ownership of the assets or that you put certain conditions on the trust and release of assets. 


The CPA Journal explains that the trustee must assume fiduciary duties over assets in a trust. This might include making decisions about using trust assets, paying taxes on assets or manage income made by the trust assets. The trustee has the responsibility to keep the assets in the trust in good condition and to avoid doing anything that could damage the assets in any way. The trustee must also handle all paperwork associated with the trust and submit reports to the proper authorities regarding the assets. 


Some trustee duties come from the law and are universal for all trustees. You also can outline duties in the paperwork establishing the trust. You may have special requests to make of the trustee or specific things you want him or her to do. Keep in mind, though, that the trustee has a lot of power, so you should choose your trustee carefully.