To answer the question posed in the title of this post, readers of this California estate planning blog must understand the different roles that individuals may play in the administration of the trust. The following paragraphs will discuss three main roles a person may take on with regard to a trust, but those with questions about trusts and trust administration are asked to discuss their inquiries with estate planning lawyers in their areas.
First, the person who creates a trust is called a grantor. This is the person who originally owned the property that was placed into the trust. They may also be called the settlor or trustor. A grantor may maintain control of their trust if they make themselves the trustee of the trust.
A trustee is a person who manages the trust property for the benefit of another party. A trustee has a fiduciary duty to the party that will benefit from the trust and in some cases a trustee may receive financial compensation for the work that they do with regard to managing the trust. Readers should check in with their trust attorneys to find out if they may remain in control of their trust assets once their trusts are created.
Finally, a beneficiary is a party that will benefit from the distribution of assets in a trust. A grantor may also be a beneficiary if the trust is created to account for this accommodation and beneficiaries have rights to pursue damages against trustees that fail in their fiduciary responsibilities.
This overview of trust administration roles is a simplification of a complex process, and readers may not rely on it as legal guidance. Consultation with legal professionals is important to ensure that unique trust management issues are addressed.