A Comprehensive Guide to the Role of a Trustee with Puai Wichman
A Trustee is one of the most critical roles when it comes to managing a Trust. Wealth management and protection expert Puai Wichman says this person acts as a caretaker for the assets held within the Trust and ensures that the finances are managed in the best interest of the Trust. Typically, the person who creates the Trust assumes the role of Trustee until they are no longer able to perform the duties required. At that point, a Successor Trustee takes over. The Trustee’s duties are wide-ranging and include recording income and expenses, distributing funds to beneficiaries, filing taxes, and keeping detailed records of transactions. The key to being a successful Trustee is the ability to selflessly carry out the Trust’s instructions, always keeping the Trust’s best interests in mind. When selecting a Trustee, choosing someone who aligns with these goals is essential.
What are the duties and responsibilities of a Trustee?
A Trustee is a crucial figure when it comes to ensuring that your legacy is preserved and protected. As a Trustee, they have many roles that vary depending on the specific Trust. However, the main purpose of any Trustee is to carry out the Trust’s directions.
Puai Wichman explains that it involves making sure that all assets are managed and distributed in accordance with your wishes, ensuring that beneficiaries receive the benefits they are entitled to, and handling any issues that may arise during the administration of the Trust. The goal of any Trust is to protect your legacy, ensuring that your hard work and assets are preserved for future generations to come. A skilled and committed Trustee is crucial for making this happen, and selecting the right person can be one of the most important decisions that you make.
As a fiduciary, one holds a great deal of responsibility in managing investments and distributions for the Trust. This role requires utmost attention to detail and a high standard of care to protect the interests of the beneficiaries. In essence, being a fiduciary requires putting the Trust’s needs before one’s own, as some believe that the Trustee must prioritize the well-being of the Trust over personal investments.
As a Trustee, it is crucial to understand the terms of the Trust and ensure the safety of the assets within it. One of the first steps in fulfilling your duties as a Trustee is to familiarize yourself with the basic terms outlined in the Trust. It includes knowing who the beneficiaries are and having access to all the necessary records to ensure that everything is accurate and in order.
Another key responsibility of a trustee is to make sure that the assets in the trust are well-managed and preserved. If the trust dictates, a trustee should invest those assets in ways that aim to both maintain their value over time and ensure that they continue to generate returns long into the future.
Being a trustee can be a significant responsibility as it involves the management and distribution of a person’s assets. As per the Trust’s direction, a trustee has a legal obligation to administer and distribute the trust’s assets to the beneficiaries according to the Trust’s provisions. To administer the trust, the trustee needs to have a clear understanding of the trust’s provisions, the beneficiaries’ needs, and the assets involved.
When it comes to being a trustee, the ability to make ongoing decisions is absolutely crucial. These decisions may range from determining the frequency and amount of payment to beneficiaries to setting other conditions for the management of the trust. However, it’s important to note that these decisions are often discretionary, which means that the trustee must be willing and able to exercise good judgment in order to determine what’s truly necessary. For instance, in Trust & Will’s Trust-Based Estate Plan, the trustee is required to distribute all income earned to the beneficiaries. But in other cases, the trustee may be given more autonomy to make decisions based on the circumstances at hand. Regardless of the specifics, Puai Wichman mentions that trustees need to approach their responsibilities with care and diligence, always prioritizing the needs of the beneficiaries and striving to make the best possible decisions for everyone involved.
As a Trustee, it’s crucial to keep track of financial records and prepare all necessary tax-related forms and filings. From making sure tax returns are filed correctly to organizing statements, a Trustee must stay organized and detail-oriented.
Trustees need to be available to beneficiaries, answering questions and providing information whenever necessary. They have the role of answering questions about statements, account information, and tax reports. Ensuring that beneficiaries have the information they need to make informed decisions is a crucial part of Trustee duties.
Puai Wichman is the founder and CEO of Ora Partners, an international trust provider and wealth management firm dedicated to helping families and individuals protect personal and corporate wealth.