Trustees are central and authoritative figures regarding trust accounts, commanding a number of powers while they exercise close oversight and control over a trust’s administration.
Indeed, a trustee has discretion to act in a wide universe of matters, ranging from the managing and disbursement of trust assets to making trust-related purchases/sales and determining appropriate investments for trust monies.
Notwithstanding the seemingly plenary powers of trustees, though, the reality is that a trustee’s prerogatives are duly circumscribed by common sense and lawful limitations.
Concerning the latter, a trustee must act with due regard for the rights and reasonable expectations of beneficiaries named in a trust, given that those individuals — and, sometimes, institutions — are the very focal points most closely focused upon in trust documents.
After all, a trust creator names beneficiaries because he or she wants them to receive select benefits. A trustee who take actions that do not lawfully promote the rights of a beneficiary, or who fails to take actions that advance the interests of a beneficiary in the manner intended by a trustor, can become the target of a lawsuit seeking to enforce beneficiary rights.
That simply makes sense, right? As we note on a page of our website at the Alameda County estate planning Law Offices of Connie Yi, PC, addressing the rights of trust beneficiaries, those parties “have a legally enforceable right against the estate, trust and trustee.”
A proven estate administration attorney with experience in trust matters can help promote those rights, either through informal communication with a trustee or, when necessary, via courtroom litigation.
To sum up this post, it is important to note that, while a trustee clearly has powers over trust administration, they are far from unchecked. An experienced attorney can advocate strongly on behalf of a trust beneficiary to help ensure that trust benefits are fully received and that a trustee acting unlawfully is held fully accountable for wrongdoing.