A trustee is most often either an individual or corporate fiduciary that administers a trust for the benefit of named beneficiaries. The trustee you choose will protect your assets, caring for them as you instruct in your trust agreement and serving the interests of the beneficiaries you name. When your Will leaves assets to a trust, the executor will transfer those assets to the trustee for distribution to the beneficiaries, or for continued management.
A trustee’s responsibilities may be as broad or as limited as you decide when you set up your trust and as the law limits.
It's preferable to choose someone with whom the beneficiaries feel comfortable. A trustee's duties can continue for generations, which is a benefit of naming a corporate fiduciary, who can provide consistent and reliable service longer than a single person’s lifetime.
A trustee’s duties can include
Investing the trust’s assets
Making distributions according to the requirements of the trust agreement.
Maintaining detailed financial records
Filing and tax reporting.
Paying bills and managing expenses.
One of the biggest decisions to make in designating a trustee is whether to use an individual or a corporate fiduciary. When an individual trustee is chosen, it is often a family member. Before this decision is made ask yourself this:
Does my relative have the expertise to handle my financial affairs?
What capacity and what stage in their life will my family member be in when I need them to act as Trustee? As I age, so will they. Will their life be too busy to handle this when I need them?
By choosing one family member to act as Trustee, will this cause problems or rifts with other family members?
Corporate fiduciaries like State Street Bank & Trust Co. have the expertise to handle your financial duties, longevity to be there whenever you need them, and un-biased opinions to make fair decisions.