I’ve Been Appointed Trustee. Now What Do I Do?
Hi everybody, Miranda Dressler here. Attorney with the law offices of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, California. And today I’m going to talk to you about what to do if your parents have told you that they’ve named you as their trustee in their trust.
If your parents have told you as much that they’ve named you as trustee in their estate plan what do you need to do? What are the steps you need to take? Well, you know, typically you should know how the trust is set up. For the most part your parents are going to be named as the initial trustees of the trust. And as long as your parents are still alive and still have mental capacity. Typically, at the beginning there’s not much for you to do. Your named in the document just in a role to take over once both your parents can no longer act. And so, you’re really just in a standby position at this point. Although you should sit down with your folks and talk to them really about what their wishes are and if there is anything specific, they’d like you to do once you do step into that role.
If your parents become either unwilling or unable because of an incapacity to continue to act as the trustee of their own trust. Then there are some formal steps you are going to need to take in order to take over as trustee for them. It’s not something that’s going to happen automatically.
Generally if there is, if a parent can’t continue because of incapacity the trust will most likely provide that you will need to go around and get a couple of doctor’s notes reflecting that in fact your parent no longer has the mental capacity to act in the role of trustees. And then it is always advisable to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney and really talk to that attorney about what are the required next steps to formally take over in the role as trustee.
If you do end up taking over as trustee for one of your parents while the parents are still alive but don’t have capacity. You know, then really the job of trustee is to manage the assets in the trust for the benefit of your parents as long as your parents are still alive.
If you do end up stepping into the role of trustee while your parents are still alive but lack capacity, then the job of trustee really is to manage the assets in the trust in a prudent way for the benefit of your parents as long as your parents are still alive. That means that, you know, not investing in high risk stocks you know. Assets like bonds can be a safer choice and really just spending the money on behalf of your parents in, you know, providing them with the same standard of living to which they were accustomed when they were managing their own finances. So, this means for example if your parents were quite used to eating dinners out. You can’t all of a sudden switch them to eating Top Ramen every night because you’re trying to save money in the trust for the beneficiaries down the road. That is not going to be acceptable.
So, in the second part of this blog I going to be discussing the role of trustee once both of your parents have passed away. So, stay tuned for that.
If you have any questions in this topic or any other estate planning topic, please contact an experienced estate planning attorney in your area. Thank you.