Trustees not always neutral when situations call for it

Estate planners sometimes designate people to manage certain assets at the time of their deaths. Known as trustees, they hold and oversee the trust property for the benefit of a third party, referred to as the beneficiary. As often happens in Georgia and other states, multiple beneficiaries may disagree about who gets what when it comes to an inheritance.

When a trust is involved, the trustee is supposed to remain neutral, carefully managing the property as per the terms of the trust document and applicable laws. Some say this is not always the case, however, as some trustees pick and choose favorites among beneficiaries, offering preferential treatment to some while treating others with less favor. Though it may not be the easiest of tasks, a good trustee will fulfill the duty of true impartiality among all beneficiaries.

Things sometimes get out of hand when family members argue over heirlooms, money or land. Trustees are duty bound to act with full transparency and disclosure. Their task is typically made easier by disclosing to beneficiaries the details of any problems that arise along the way.

There are times when trustees may feel a need to request guidance from the court. This type of intervention may help avoid an emotional blow-up between beneficiaries and trustees, particularly if the situation is a delicate one. An estate planning and probate attorney would have clear understanding of Georgia law and experience that may aid in obtaining a timely and appropriate resolution to any legal challenges that arise.

Source:, "Trustee Duties: The Duty of Impartiality", March 25, 2016

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