Often, testators will leave their trusts under the management of banks or life insurance companies that will provide a standard service of trust management and distribution after the grantor has passed away. In other cases, the testator will choose a trustee or multiple trustees (as co-trustees or successor trustees) to manage their estate. Even though there are benefits to having trusted family members handle the estate, trust laws are complex, and often require the help of an experienced trustee attorney to ensure that you are making the best decisions for your family.
Before you can know what you need to do as a trustee, you should also know what not to do. The main thing for you to understand as a trustee is that managing the trust is not owning the assets and property within the trust. Although you may be one of the beneficiaries of the trust, this does not mean that you have control over all the assets to use or distribute as you please. Make sure to follow the directions of the trust. In addition, if you take certain actions, you will be removed as a trustee, these actions include: using the assets for your own benefit unless it is explicitly stated, do not give better treatment/assets to one beneficiary over others unless it is explicitly stated, do not combine your own assets and the trust assets together, and much more. Beneficiaries in Ann Arbor, as well as beneficiaries in all of Michigan, have a right under the Michigan Legislature code MCL 555.26 to remove a trustee who is violating the trust or is not fulfilling the duties of a trustee.
Although the minor laws may have you concerned about being removed, keep in mind that if you hire an attorney, you will not be doing this alone! Depending on the particular assets involved, you will have different professionals to consult with for advice on the accounting side as well as the advice of a trustee attorney that can guide you through the complexities of the probate process.