When you are the chosen trustee for your parent’s trust, many different actions need to be taken when your parent passes away. These include organizing their accounts, paying their bills and figuring out how to distribute the assets per the trust document’s instructions. The responsibilities and the pressure from your other siblings can get out of hand.
The Responsibilities of the Trustee
When your parents set up their trust, they will usually appoint the oldest sibling to be the trustee. This sibling takes responsibility for their parent’s rental properties, cash, investment accounts, and management of their taxes once they pass away. Before the trust can be divided up between the beneficiaries (usually the other siblings and family), the trustee has to pay off any and all financial obligations their parents had.
What Family Pressures You Can Expect
Depending on the complexity of your parent’s assets, these responsibilities can take months, even years, before everything is finalized. This is usually when the beneficiaries (usually other siblings) get frustrated and begin putting pressures on you because you are the trustee. They want to get their share of your parent’s trust as quickly as possible. So when you are taking longer than they expected to get this done they start to convince themselves that something fishy is going on.
It is not uncommon to be blamed for how long it is taking and being told you are not prioritizing these responsibilities. If you are not communicating properly, they may decide you are stealing their parent’s money and keeping it for yourself. In the worst cases, we have seen siblings sue the trustee sibling as a way to put additional pressure on them to get it done!
How to Manage the Communication
To avoid being in a situation where your siblings feel pressured to sue you, we recommend you frequently communicate with them. We have put together 3 recommendations on how to communicate with your siblings to help manage their emotions and diffuse the situation of getting sued.
Find out what they are on the related blog: 3 Tips to Manage the Communication with Your Siblings When You are The Trustee of Your Parent’s Trust
If you have more questions or would like our assistance with finalizing your parent’s trust, please contact us.