A trustee for a will is a person who is given the duty of carrying out the instructions in the will. Many times the trustee is named in the will, but if not, trustees can be appointed by the probate court which handles the will. In addition to carrying out the terms in the will, a trustee's duties include preserving and protecting items listed in the will, being a holder of property on behalf of beneficiaries, remaining impartial to all beneficiaries, and protecting the will from legal challenges.
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Carrying Out the Terms
The first and primary duty of a trustee is to carry out the terms that are outlined in the will of the deceased. The specificity of the terms can vary depending on the will; some wills just have general outlines for instructions, while some wills have a letter of terms that spells out the deceased's wishes clearly and in detail.
Holding, protecting and preserving the trust property. In some circumstances, beneficiaries of items in a will aren't able to take possession of them for some reason, including being a minor, out of the country, incarceration, etc. In these cases, the trustee has the responsibility of maintaining the trusted items until such a time that the beneficiary can taken possession of the property.
The trustee is expected to not favour one beneficiary over another and remain impartial. This is particularly important in cases where two or more beneficiaries squabble over the provisions in the will. The trustee is also specifically expected to defend the trust and all beneficiaries against anyone challenging the will's validity.
A trustee is expected to perform the responsibilities given to him or her without delegating them to anyone else. Any duty which calls on the person to exercise skill and judgment, such as investment responsibilities, can't be delegated. That said, nothing prohibits the trustee from hiring professional experts for advice on some matters and their suitability to the trust.
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