Powers of a trustee

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
A trustee is the person appointed to manage the property placed in a trust. The trustee is chosen by the person creating the trust. If, for some reason, the trustee named in the trust cannot serve, the court will appoint a replacement trustee. Trustees can be given broad or limited powers; it is up to the creator of the trust. However, normally the trustee will be someone in whom the creator of the trust has great faith and confidence. In such cases, the creator of the trust will often gives the trustee broad powers to allow the trustee the flexibility to react appropriately in the future. The trustee is always under an obligation to mange the trust property in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The standard of duty is based on what a 'reasonable person' would have done under the circumstances. More than one person can be named as a trustee, in which case they will act as 'co-trustees' and must agree on all decisions or go to court to resolve any conflict. The person creating the trust can also name an 'alternate' trustee, which is a person who will serve as trustee if the original trustee is no longer able or willing to do so. The trustee will distribute the trust property to the beneficiaries at the time designated by the trust. Sometimes the property will be distributed to beneficiaries when they reach a certain age, for instance, to minor children when they turn 25. Sometimes the property will be distributed to the beneficiaries upon the death of a certain person, for instance, to children after the death of a spouse. The trustee must provide an account of all the property either yearly, or at the time of distribution. For more information on the powers that can be given to a trustee, please contact an attorney.

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