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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What Does it Mean to Administer a Trust?

Trusts are an effective tool used by many people as part of their estate plan and retirement plan. With a trust, you can protect assets from your creditors, avoid probate, protect assets from the beneficiary’s creditors, and eliminate or reduce estate and gift taxes. However, a key element in any trust agreement is the appointment of a trusted person to act as the trustee. The trustee administers the trust. Therefore, you want to choose a trustee who will act in your best interest and the best interest of the beneficiaries of the trust.

Our South Carolina trust administration lawyers can help you develop a trust that meets your needs and accomplishes your goals. We can also assist you in reviewing your choices for a trustee.

Naming Yourself as Trustee &  Naming a Successor Trustee

In many cases, you can serve as the trustee of your trust. An example would be a revocable living trust. However, you will need to name a successor trustee, in the event you become incapacitated, or you pass away. The successor trustee is the person who will assume the duties of administering the trust when you can no longer do so yourself. You can name a family member, friend, family attorney, or financial institution as the trustee of your trust. The choice is personal and depends on several factors.

Keep in mind that the trustee does not own the assets in the trust. The trust is the owner of the assets. The trustee’s job is to protect and manage the assets within the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Trustee

The duties and responsibilities of the trustee vary depending on the type of trust, the terms of the trust, and the assets held by the trust. As stated above, all trustees have a fiduciary duty to the trust’s beneficiaries. Below are three duties and responsibilities that every trustee has regardless of the type of trust agreement:

  • Notice to Beneficiaries — A trustee has a duty to notify the beneficiaries that he or she was appointed as trustee and that the trust exists. You will be required to provide other notices and reports periodically to the beneficiaries. At the very least, you should provide an annual report to the beneficiaries detailing the administration of the trust assets, including the distributions made from the trust during the year.

  • Manage the Assets of the Trust — The amount of work involved in managing the assets within the trust depend on the type of assets in the trust. You must also protect the assets of the trust. Some trustees find that hiring a financial expert or a South Carolina trust administration lawyer is necessary if the trustee does not have experience managing assets or investing liquid assets.

  • Distributions to the Beneficiaries — The trust agreement specifies when and how assets are to be distributed to beneficiaries. The trustee must ensure that the assets are distributed according to the terms and conditions of the trust agreement.

Hiring South Carolina Trust Administration Lawyers to Assist You with a Trust

If you have been appointed as a trustee and you are unsure of the steps you need to take, it is best to consult with our South Carolina trust administration lawyers as soon as possible. Schedule a consult with one of our South Carolina trust administration lawyers today. We can review the terms of the trust and advise you of your duties and responsibilities as the trustee. We can also advise you what you need to do to protect yourself and avoid lawsuits and claims against you by the beneficiaries of the trust.

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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.

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