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Detailing Your Fiduciary Duties As A Trustee

Often, at the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo we are asked by Woodland Hills residents to explain what is expected of them as a trustee. If you have been named as such by a family member or friend, it is important that you gain the same understanding. The trust beneficiaries as well as the courts will expect you to know your responsibilities as trustee. Not only that, but you’re also expected to carry them out within the confines set by the law. A failure to do so could leave you open to claims of breach of fiduciary duty and the potential for civil action.

Like most, you probably will go into your appointment as a trustee knowing little about what your responsibilities are. Fortunately, those are spelled out for you clearly in the California Probate Code. First and foremost, you’re expecting to follow all of the instructions set forth in the trust instrument. This covers all aspects of how to manage the trust and how to administer it to beneficiaries. You can consider this a roadmap to help guide you through the process.

Furthermore, here are some of the other duties set forth by the probate code:

  •          To act solely in the interest of the beneficiaries: If multiple beneficiaries are involved, you must act impartially towards each.
  •          To not use the trust property for your own profit: You cannot use your role as trustee to accept payments or gifts. You also cannot pass on the responsibility of administering the trust to a beneficiary as a condition of receiving his or her allotted portion of it.
  •          To preserve trust property: This includes settling any debts and liabilities related to the trust.

Detailed descriptions of your fiduciary duties can be found by further examining the probate code, or by exploring our website.