If you are the beneficiary of a trust, you should know everything that a trustee can and should be doing for you. Trustees, as a professional fiduciary, must be capable of providing you a variety of accounting services to ensure your “trust.”
First, a trustee should be handling asset collection and protection. What this means is that the trustee should be collecting assets that are earmarked for the trust. Trustees must also protect your trust’s assets. In real estate trusts, the trustee is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of real estate properties, which are the trust’s assets in this situation. In financial trusts, the trustee is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of financial assets like securities or cash, and is trusted to grow or safeguard these accounts for the benefit of the beneficiary.
Trustees are responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust. If a trustee does not act in agreement with the terms of the trust, they are considered to be in breach of trust. Only a beneficiary or a court can approve, with a written document, a trustee to act in a way that isn’t in accordance with the terms of the trust. Court accounting is an exhaustive, but important asset in ensuring a secure estate.
Second, a trustee must provide investment oversight. This means that the trustee must have an investment plan in place that is designed with the best interests of the beneficiary in mind. Trust investments are usually expected to provide income for beneficiaries. They are also usually planned to reinvest the principal or distribute it to beneficiaries. Trustees must be loyal to beneficiaries and not delegate their responsibilities. They must also not profit off the assets of the trust. However, they can charge fees for their services or receive income as outlined in the terms of the trust. To avoid possible problems, trustees cannot be in a conflict of interest with the trust or beneficiary.
Third, trustees are required to make sure taxes are paid on all income that the trust assets generate. This includes tax on capital gains. Trustees also are required to tell beneficiaries the amounts that must be reported on their income tax returns as part of trust distributions. Trustees must also document all transactions within trust accounts. Before final settlement they must also prove to their beneficiaries that all of the trust’s assets have been properly managed and distributed at the trust’s conclusion.
Trustees are also required to defend the trust and act in ways that protect the assets. If there is more than one beneficiary, the trustee must act impartially to their needs. That means that the trustee can’t favor one beneficiary over another but instead needs to act in the best interest of them as a collective group. Trustees are answerable to their beneficiaries and must keep them informed of their actions and decisions and also inform them on any developing situations related to the trust.
Your trustee should be someone you trust and recognize has the knowledge and skills needed to manage a trust. Since trust tax returns are different from individual returns, a qualified CPA, like Marcia L. Campbell CPA, is invaluable. If you want a trustee with over 25 years of experience, then you want Marcia L. Campbell, CPA. Our team has helped many trusts and beneficiaries get the proper financial management they need. We treat our clients with the respect and kindness like they are our family. Contact us and we can help your trust and your future.