Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law
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Evaluating transactions made by a trustee

A number of different responsibilities accompany the role of trustee in Woodland Hills. One who assumes this role should do his or her due diligence is researching them all in order to avoid accusations of breaching his or her fiduciary duty. Such allegations can be quite common when it comes to arranging transactions involving trust assets. Given the interest that beneficiaries hold in a trust, one might assume that they will subject every sale or claim initiated by a trustee to a great amount of scrutiny.

Among the many duties that a trustee assumes, the National Paralegal College recognizes the duty to segregate and identify trust assets. In simpler terms, this means that a trustee must keep his or her personal assets separate from those of the trust, and that a failure to do so will expose him or her to liability for any losses that may occur. This is true even if he or she is assumed to have acted in good faith.

The California Probate Code expounds upon this duty in Section 16004, where it says that a trustee may not use any trust property for any of the following purposes:

  •          His or her own benefit
  •          In any transaction where his or her own interest and that of the beneficiaries may be at odds
  •          For any purpose not connected to the trust

A potential dilemma may arise where a trustee is assigned to administer to trusts simultaneously. The law does allow him or her to sell or exchange property between the two trusts if it is shown that the transaction is fair reasonable with respect to the beneficiaries of both trusts and he or she provides them with all of the material facts related to it. 

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