What Does Fiduciary Duty Mean for a Trustee?

Attorney Dan Krause explains to trustees what their responsibilities and fiduciary duties are. Being a trustee means putting their personal desires aside and managing a trust with the needs of the beneficiaries as their primary concern. A trustee must also manage assets prudently as a reasonable person would handle their own assets.


Hi, I'm Dan Krause, an estate planning and elder law attorney.

Today I want to talk a little bit about the duties of a trustee. If you are a trustee or if you may become a trustee in the future, you should know that you have fiduciary duties. I want to talk a little bit about what that means. 

As a trustee, unless you are the only beneficiary of the trust, fiduciary duty means that you have the duty to put your needs and your wants in the background, and focus on the needs of the beneficiaries of that trust.  

Let's say you are one of three beneficiaries. If your parents had a trust and passed away, then you become the trustee. Now, if you had two siblings, you need to make sure that their needs or their interests in the trust come before your particular interests in the trust. That's part of fiduciary duty. 

A fiduciary duty is to treat the assets of the trust in a way that a prudent person would treat their own assets. Also, to treat the beneficiaries of the trust as primary in importance instead of your own interests or anyone else's interests. 

So, that is a little bit about fiduciary duties. It's kind of a complex area but that's the main part of it - is to make sure that you as the trustee is focused on the beneficiaries and not yourself. As long as you remember that general rule, then you should do very well. 

If you have any questions about fiduciary duties or your duties as a trustee, please give us a call. 

Contact us online or call (608) 344-5491

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