Your Responsibilities as a Trustee of an Estate

Your Responsibilities as a Trustee of an Estate

A trustee is a person who acts as a custodian for all the assets contained within a trust. This individual is tasked with administering and managing the money within the trust based on the given instructions. In many cases, the trustee is the person who creates the trust until they can no longer fill the role.

When this happens, a successor trustee takes over the tasks. Responsibilities can include everything from filing taxes on income the trust makes to recording income and expenses and distributing funds to the right people while keeping records of all transactions.

The largest role of a trustee is to ensure they act in the best interest of the trust. As such, it’s important to choose someone as a trustee who will put their own goals to the side while they follow the trust’s instructions.

The Responsibilities of a Trustee

As you can see, trustees have several responsibilities. However, the most important is to follow the directions of the trust. This is the key to protecting your legacy. You should realize that this role has a variety of requirements. We’ll share some of the most common below.

Acting as a Fiduciary

A fiduciary is someone who is held to the highest standards in terms of protecting the distribution and investments of the trust. Some people believe that the trustee should be more diligent with matters of the trust than they are with even their own financial accounts and investments.

Understand the Trust Terms

The assets within a trust should stay safe, so a trustee needs to be aware of the terms outlined in it. This person should be aware of who all beneficiaries are and review the records to ensure they are accurate and in good order.

Answer Questions

Answering beneficiary questions is a large part of being a trustee. It’s a trustee’s job to find out answers and then get that information to the person who asked quickly. Making sure the answers are correct and sent out to the right people is essential.

Tracking Records

Trustees will need to file and prepare tax returns but it doesn’t stop there. Trustees also need to keep all statements and records filed and organized so they can easily be looked at whenever needed.

If you have a trust that needs to be updated or you want to start a trust, speak with an attorney at Bell & Shah, who is experienced with this facet of law. Learn more about estate planning, including who to use as a trust for the best results.

Why Parents Should Consider Creating an Estate Plan

Why Parents Should Consider Creating an Estate Plan

When preparing to have a first child, the number of things you need to do often seems endless. Everything from thinking about daycare to furnishing a nursery and buying a car seat can quickly fill a to-do list. Some of these things can be stressful but still worth it as you think about how your life is going to change.

However, one thing you may not have thought about is the need to make an estate plan. Making a will and naming guardians to care for the child also may be things you haven’t considered.

However, these are crucial steps to take in case tragedy hits your family while a child is still young. We’ll explain why having an estate plan is so essential below.

Opens Up Important Conversations

You may not have thought about who would raise your child if the worst happens. Or maybe you always assumed your parents would do so. However, these are only assumptions and things can change as time goes on. Grandparents might move away, have health issues, or otherwise be unable to step in if something terrible happens.

Having open conversations about your thoughts will help you make solid plans. These conversations might not be easy but they are essential. You’ll know who to name as guardian if you are unable to raise your child.

Avoids Court Battles

If you don’t have an estate plan and pass away, your loved ones who survive may argue about who should raise the child. In the worst case, this could result in a trip to the courtroom. When this occurs, a judge will be tasked with deciding who should take care of your child.

This can be stressful for everyone, especially a small child. The person you might have chosen to care for your child could end up losing. While appeals are possible, the winner is usually the person who was chosen by the first judge.

Prevents Fighting

Another thing people may fight about if you don’t have an estate plan is who gets your property, money, and more. An estate plan notes who gets what to avoid additional disputes if you pass away.

It’s best to have a will, a power of attorney, and a healthcare power of attorney to avoid any confusion. If you have not had an estate plan made and have a child on the way, reach out to the attornies at Bell & Shah today. It’s something you want to have available as soon as possible.

When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

When Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

Individuals who already have an estate plan are off to a good start. If you don’t, it might be time to have one drawn up so you have a plan. Even if you have already worked with an attorney to create an estate plan, some life events necessitate making changes to it. It’s recommended to update it every three to five years or when one of the situations below occurs.


After marriage, you’ll want to add your spouse as a beneficiary. However, you may also want to add them to other roles. Some of these include designating them as the trustee of any trusts you create, a healthcare agent to make your healthcare decisions, a financial agent if you are unable to do that on your own, and an executor. Updating the plan will prevent problems (and even lawsuits) in the future.

Birth or Adoption

Having or adopting a child is a major change in life. Naming them in your estate ensures your legacy is upheld. There are many things to address with a child. You may wish to select a guardian in case both parents die. You should also think about when to pass assets to your child. Think about whether assets should go to a spouse or you want to make assets go to a child. Take time to consider all these things and speak with an attorney for anything you might have missed.


A divorce can be stressful and complicated. One of the things you want to do following a divorce is to update your estate plan. If you made changes when getting married, undoing those is likely to be needed. Those who have divorced and remarried should make it a priority to update the plan.


Retirement is a major life change. While you might plan for it for decades, some don’t consider updating their estate plan when it occurs. Finances often change drastically at this time and you want to be sure your plan matches up with your new reality. Most who retire have kids who are older now so you may want to change some provisions and offer an inheritance to grandchildren.

Reach out to the experienced law office of Bell & Shah to learn more about estate plans and having one drawn up. If you haven’t updated yours in several years, now is likely a good time to do that as well. Make sure everything is in place for the future no matter what happens!

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