Understanding a Trustee's Fiduciary Duty - Independent Trustee Services
When administering the trust, a Trustee must set aside personal feelings and goals and instead do what is in the best interests of the trust beneficiaries - this is referred to as the Trustee's "fiduciary duty." A well-drafted trust agreement will give the Trustee guidance about what the priorities should be for each beneficiary. For example, a trust for the benefit of a surviving spouse and children could state that the spouse's needs have priority over the children's needs, or vice versa. Or a trust that has been set up to provide for the education of grandchildren could specify what types of schools the grandchildren can attend (public, parochial, trade, state funded, private) and what will be paid for from the trust fund (tuition, room, board, books). A trust may also require the Trustee to look at other assets available to the beneficiary outside of the trust fund before making distributions to the beneficiary.
If the trust agreement does not contain any specific guidelines (unfortunately, many older trusts that I run into do not), then the Trustee must look for guidance from state law and may even require the assistance of a judge to make the right decision in certain situations.
Louwrens Koen Attorneys act as independant Trustee at a very reasonable fee.
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