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The 3 Main Duties of a Trustee of an Estate Trust

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

A trust, commonly used in a family or with individuals who have extensive assets and want to protect those, and or by individuals who simply want to avoid probate, are effective and transferring property to heirs. I often have individuals who are named as Trustees of a trust seek my legal advice about what their duties and responsibilities are. these mainly depend upon the trust that is being administered, but I have found that there really are three main duties of trustee has in administering an estate trust.


The first and perhaps most important duty a trustee has is to keep the beneficiaries informed of everything associated with the trust. This begins upon the death of the individual who created the trust. At this time a trustee should provide notice to the beneficiaries of the death of the trustee, and the fact that they are named as a beneficiary in the trust. At this time it is always wise to give a copy of the trust to each beneficiary so that they have as much information concerning the trust that the trustee is administering.

There are other reports and notices that are required by a trustee is well. The most important of which once a trust is actually being administered, is providing at least an annual report to the beneficiaries of the administration of the trust, and any distributions that were made from the trust. This allows the beneficiaries to keep an eye on the trust and make sure that it is being handled according to the terms and conditions of the trust and in a way that will protect and preserve trust assets on their behalf.


This then leads to the next most important duty of a trustee which is to preserve and protect trust assets. A trustee is not required to become an expert investor, or business manager. Rather, a trustee is simply required to exert their best and reasonable efforts, which may mean hiring professionals such as an attorney to assist them, in order to preserve all the trust assets so that they can be used for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

The purpose of setting up a trust is to preserve property so that it can be used for the benefit of the beneficiaries. So long as a trustee is taking measures to show that they are being reasonable and responsible then they have taken the steps necessary to protect and preserve the trust assets.


The final responsibility of a trustee is to make distributions from the trust to the beneficiaries. A well-drafted trust document will include instructions with detail to the trustee about what the trust assets are, how they are to be handled during the administration of the trust, and finally how and when distributions from these assets are to be made to beneficiaries. The trustee is responsible to see that the trust assets are distributed based on the description, terms and conditions that are set forth by the individual who set up the trust.

If you have questions about the duties and responsibilities of a trustee, or if you have questions about your own Idaho estate planning, or an Idaho probate we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at  We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.

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