Choosing and Understanding the Duties of an Orange County Trustee

Serving as the successor trustee of a trust is a big responsibility that should not be underestimated. As you create your estate plan, it is vital that you seek guidance from a knowledgeable and experienced trust attorney who can assist you in choosing the right individual who is capable of fulfilling his duties as an Orange County trustee. Failing to fulfill these obligations could potentially expose the successor trustee to liability, damage the trust assets, and delay the trust administration process. Fortunately, a careful consideration of the role of a trustee can increase the likelihood that you choose the best successor for a smooth and effective trust administration.

While serving as trustee of the trust, trustees have certain obligations that they must observe. The following are 10 common duties of an Orange County trustee:

  1. Administer the trust according to its terms.
  2. Administer the trust for the sole benefit of the trust beneficiaries.
  3. Treat all beneficiaries impartially and fairly.
  4. Avoid conflicts of interest.
  5. Gather, manage, and keep control over the trust assets.
  6. Ensure that trust assets are productive.
  7. Consider hiring an attorney, accountant, and financial advisor to assist with certain responsibilities.
  8. Prepare periodic accountings for the beneficiaries.
  9. Cooperate with co-trustees.
  10. Comply with the prudent investor rules in California.

These duties can be considered “10 commandments” for an efficient trust administration. As you create your estate plan, it is important to explain these duties to your potential successor trustee to ensure that he is comfortable serving in this role. Successor trustees are sometimes concerned about their potential liability. Having these conversations at the time that you create your estate plan may help to alleviate these fears.

Our guide, Understanding the Revocable Living Trust - In Language that Anyone Can Understand in 8 Minutes, provides a helpful overview about living trusts and the role that they play in an estate plan. For more information, contact an experienced Orange County estate planning lawyer today at (714) 459-5481.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm