Perhaps you serve as a trustee for the first time, chosen because you are an accomplished, reliable and trustworthy business person.
However, the job of administering a trust is new territory for you. Here are five tips to help you succeed in this role.
1. Review the type of trust
First things first: Review all legal documents to determine what kind of trust you have to administer. Learn about the reasons for establishing this type of trust, how long it lasts and its goals.
2. Examine assets
Find out what assets the trust property includes. You will likely find bank statements, brokerage statements, property deeds and personal property of various kinds. Some assets, such as rental property or stocks, require ongoing management. Make note of the steps required to properly handle such assets.
3. Become familiar with beneficiaries
Who are the beneficiaries? Determine how many there are, their contact information and their relationship to the trustor. Find out if the deceased’s estate plan lists any of these people as heirs. Learning as much as you can about the beneficiaries helps you avoid problems with them.
4. Keep good records
Accurate recordkeeping is vital. Part of your job as trustee is to keep records of trust income and expenditures and maintain an inventory of trust assets.
5. Form a team
As a first-time trustee, you may feel comfortable managing routine tasks, but to stay on track and keep from feeling totally overwhelmed, you need at least occasional help from professionals. If real property is part of the trust, you may need to hire a realtor, as well as an appraiser. You may also want to hire a financial advisor to help you manage investments. You should also engage an attorney without delay because administering a trust is serious work, and you do not want to make any legal missteps.