Most beneficiaries on a trust are unfamiliar with the trust administration process, and will also be anxious about this perceived lack of control. Unfortunately, this can create a variety of communication problems between these beneficiaries and the trustee.
You may be handling every aspect of a trust properly from a technical perspective, but it is equally important that you’re able to provide relevant updates to beneficiaries and communicate with them effectively. If beneficiaries don’t know why you’re doing something or that you’re doing it altogether, you are unlikely to get their support or cooperation, and this will make your job much more difficult than is necessary.
The best way to relieve concerns for beneficiaries is to:
- Educate them about your role.
- Help them to understand realistic expectations about the length of time it will take to administer the trust.
- Treat questions from beneficiaries as opportunities to engage with them and to create clarity rather than as annoying disruptions.
- Contact the beneficiaries as soon as possible after you have been installed in your role.
- Do not hide assets or trust documents from the beneficiaries.
All of these communication tools can help you serve much more effectively in the role of trustee and can minimize the possibility of disputes or claims that you have violated your legal responsibilities. It can also be beneficial to communicate with a probate and trust administration lawyer when you have been appointed as a trustee, to have specific clarity on your next steps and how best to protect yourself.
If you’re concerned about how to best create a trust and inform a trustee about the responsibility, you need to communicate with an experienced attorney.