The role of a trustee is to manage assets left in trust to beneficiaries of the estate. The trustee and executor have different roles; however, it is possible that the same person can be named to fulfill both responsibilities.
The primary responsibilities of a trustee include:
- Carry out and administer the provisions set forth in the trust document.
- Maintain loyalty to trust beneficiaries.
- Exercise diligence and care in managing the trust assets.
- Always segregate trust assets from the trustee's personal assets.
As with the executor relationship, choosing a trustee means choosing someone that you trust. This does not mean that the trustee necessarily has to be an individual; you may choose a financial institution with a trust department (usually considered a "corporate trustee"). As you might expect, choosing a corporate trustee may involve higher costs but with that you should expect more knowledge and familiarity with being a trustee.
Also, note that a person can also elect two or more trustees if the situation requires and that trustees can be removed for breaching their fiduciary duties.
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