In our experience, most persons named as a trustee are non-professional trustees. In other words, the role of trustee is typically filled by a family member, either a spouse or a child, or a trusted friend. As a non-professional trustee, most persons nominated have very little idea of what is expected of them or the liability they take on by agreeing to act as trustee. This article will assist those who are either currently serving or have been nominated to serve as successor trustee. This discussion is not applicable to a person serving as trustee of a trust which he or she created to hold their own assets.
It is critical you understand your duties and responsibilities because a failure to carry out each and every duty with 100% accuracy with the terms of the trust could cause you to be personally liable for any damages caused by your failure. It is our experience that trustees who take on these responsibilities with the belief that they are going to be sued by a beneficiary will be more attentive to properly carrying out their duties and will therefore be better able to withstand a charge of a failure to carry out their duties.