The most important thing to remember when you step in as trustee is that these are not your assets. You are safeguarding them for others: for the grantor (if living) and for the beneficiaries, who will receive them after the grantor dies.
As a trustee, you have certain responsibilities. For example:
- You must follow the instructions in the trust document.
- You cannot mix trust assets with your own. You must keep separate checking accounts and investments.
- You cannot use trust assets for your own benefit (unless the trust authorizes it).
- You must treat trust beneficiaries the same; you cannot favor one over another (unless the trust says you can).
- Trust assets must be invested in a prudent (conservative) manner, in a way that will result in reasonable growth with minimum risk.
- You are responsible for keeping accurate records, filing tax returns and reporting to the beneficiaries as the trust requires.