After a loved one passes away, your duties as the successor trustee of his or her trust may begin. For those without previous experience, administering a trust can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience. It is important to fully understand your role and the powers that come with it. There are various sources for these powers.
3 Sources for Trustee Powers During Administration
What are the potential sources for a trustee’s powers during the trust administration process? The following is an overview:
- The trust instrument. The first place to look when trying to determine what your powers are as trustee, is the trust instrument itself. The trust should contain a provision that specifically addresses the powers of the trustee. Often, this provision goes into detail, specifically outlining certain powers, such as the ability to buy, sell, or mortgage real estate and the ability to open or close bank accounts. In other cases, the provision may be very broad and simply make reference to the state’s trust laws. It is important to carefully review the trust instrument because in some cases, the trust may narrow or expand the scope of a trustee’s powers, aside from those granted under state law.
- The California Probate Code and other state laws. When the trust instrument is silent as to certain trustee powers or when the trustee powers provision simply makes reference to powers granted under state law, it is important to review these laws in order to gain an understanding of what your powers are. The law will outline certain basic powers that a trustee has during an administration, such as the ability to collect, hold, and retain trust property.
- The probate court overseeing or involved in the trust administration. In some situations, it may not be perfectly clear as to whether or not a trustee has a certain power. When this happens, the trustee may need to seek guidance from the court as to how to proceed. It is important to obtain assistance from an attorney before proceeding in order to ensure that you are fulfilling your duties as trustee properly and fully.
Administering a trust is a new experience for many people. Fortunately, we can help. We encourage you to contact us today at (888) 443-6590 for more information.