Basic guidelines for first-time trustees

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Trusts

If you’ve been designated as a trustee under an Oregon trust, it’s a good idea to look over some basic guidelines to ensure your full understanding of the responsibilities and expectations that others will have for you throughout the process. Otherwise, you could end up involved in something you’re unable to handle, further miring an already complex process and potentially causing a replacement trustee to be called in.

Some of the key responsibilities that you’re taking on when you accept the role of a trustee include:

  • Confirming the security and safety of all assets
  • Understanding the trust’s terms and beneficiaries
  • Reviewing past records to ensure that they’re all accounted for and organized properly

Who is right for the job?

Being a trustee takes ample time and mental energy, and the details are often difficult to wrap your head around. As such, there is absolutely no shame in turning down the job if you know it’s something you won’t be unable to do – especially when you consider that once you assume the role, you become personally liable for everything you do throughout the process.

You should consider any conflicts of interest you may have, particularly familial relations. It’s important to make sure you’ll be doing what’s best for the beneficiaries, and it’s hard to do so with a biased frame of mind. The word “trust” is right in the name, and for a good reason: There has to be trust in order for the process to work.

Help is out there

Sometimes, it’s helpful to utilize the services of a corporate trustee, which may provide valuable assistance. It’s easy to consult with these corporations or other experts to find out which one might be the best fit for you. They can often give you insight and guidance that you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.

Trustees have many responsibilities, including the administration of the trust based on what’s instructed in the terms; preparing records, tax returns, and statements; and serving the bridge of communication between the beneficiaries and others involved in the estate planning process, answering their questions as they arise. It’s a difficult but essential job that may require additional guidance to carry out successfully.