Duties (1)

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 01:00

Trustee Duties

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What are a Trustees Duties?


Duties of a Trustee 

California Probate Code §16000 requires that the Trustee shall administer the trust according to the trust instrument and, except to the extent the trust instrument provides otherwise, according to the California Probate Code that addresses “Trust Law.” The California Probate Code lists statutory duties of the Trustee in Probate Code §§16001–16015 which includes the following:

  • Duty of loyalty;
  • Duty to deal impartially with beneficiaries;
  • Duty to avoid conflicts of interest;
  • Duty not to undertake adverse interests;
  • Duty to take control of trust property;
  • Duty to make trust property productive;
  • Duty to keep trust property separate and identified;
  • Duty to enforce claims;
  • Duty to defend actions;
  • Duty not to delegate acts to others if Trustee can reasonably perform the act, and if the Trustee must delegate, he or she must supervise the work;
  • Duties concerning co-trustees;
  • Duty to apply any special skills of the trustee;
  • Duty to make distributions of income; and

Other duties include:

  • The Duty to perform prudent investing;
  • The duty to report and account to beneficiaries as well as supply notices when a trust becomes irrevocable or the trustee changes;
  • The duty to follow Probate Code §§16080–16082 with regard to any discretionary powers; and
  • There are special duties of trustees of charitable trusts.

There are other duties.  See the California Probate Code for more.

California Probate Code that deals with the Duties of Trustee are found here:


As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the Trustee shall administer the trust according to the trust instrument and, except to the extent the trust instrument provides otherwise, according to the California Probate Code.  That means that the Trustee follows the instructions in the trust document, the Trustee follows the California Probate Code rules, and the Trustee follows any of the Probate Code rules as modified or eliminated in the trust document.


How do Trustee Duties Affect my Choosing a Trustee? 

Who the Trustee is, his or her relationship with the person that creates the Trust, and his or her relationship with any other beneficiaries can conflict with the normal duties of the Trustee.  Therefore, the attorney must be very capable and careful to ask the correct questions prior to drafting your estate planning documents.  I will discuss these potential conflicts in more detail in a later blog.

As always, if you need estate planning, please call me and I would love to work with you.  If not me, please do contact an attorney because I believe that only a trained attorney can ask the proper questions to effectuate your wishes with as little discord between beneficiaries and trustees – and do so better than a computer program or a LegalZoom type system can do.


See lots of estate planning information on my website at: www.myestate-plan.com


My most important job is to listen to your wishes then suggest solutions.  Call today and let’s start planning!

Thanks for reading!

Dan Powell





Just like my website, nothing in this blog is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. I am licensed to practice law in California.  Further, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog (and on my website). There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would not be practical to discuss all of them here. This is why I speak in generalities. Thanks again for reading.


This document is for informational purposes only.  Nothing in this is to be considered legal advice.  Nothing in this shall create an attorney/client relationship, nor shall it create a confidential relationship.  If you need legal advice (in California), feel free to contact me or someone licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.  I assume no liability or responsibility for actions taken, or not taken, as a result of reading this information.

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