Duties and Legal Requirements of a Trustee

In Nevada, a trustee is the person designated to manage trust assets. Legally, trustees must follow the terms of a trust document.

There are several different types of trusts and each has its own requirements. Generally, to be a trustee, you must:

  • Sign a document that says you will comply with the trust’s terms
  • Keep beneficiaries informed about how the trust assets are being managed
  • Ensure that any debts, taxes, or other property expenses are paid
  • Distribute assets when and how the trust document requires, including paying taxes, debts, and other expenses
  • Look out for the interest of the trust’s beneficiaries and ensure that decisions always favor them over anyone else (including yourself)
  • Remain impartial and never favor one beneficiary over another
  • Be very careful about investing and managing the trust’s assets and continually evaluate whether or not there are more appropriate investments
  • Always get a signed receipt for any cash disbursements

You can find detailed information about types of trust and their associated regulations on the Nevada State Legislature’s website.

Trusts specify other duties and powers of the trustee. It is very important that you get legal counsel familiar with estates and trusts in Nevada. It’s also a good idea to consult a certified public accountant.

Things trustees cannot do

As a trustee, you must be careful that you do not:

  • Deposit trust funds into a personal account or personal safe deposit box
  • Deposit personal funds into a trust account
  • Co-mingle assets from the trust with any other assets
  • Make speculative investments or investments that might potentially benefit you or your business, unless authorized by a court or the trust document
  • Make loans without proper documentation
  • Move assets into an investment that is not properly documented
  • Accept assets in your name without identifying that you are a trustee
  • Take any action without the consent of any co-trustees

Determining the value of trust assets

As a trustee, one of the first steps should be to inventory the trust’s assets and determine a value for every item:

  • Items that do not require a formal independent appraisal include: bank accounts, publicly traded securities, and vehicles.
  • Items that may require a formal independent appraisal include: real estate, jewelry, and high-value collectibles

The trust’s inventory should show the value of each asset. A knowledgeable estate and trust law firm can help you identify appropriate appraisers and items that may need to be appraised. Your lawyer can help you select appropriate appraisers.

Protecting trust assets

Trustees must also ensure that assets are protected and retain their value. For securities (bonds) certificates, jewelry, and other items of value should be kept in a safe deposit box. Accounts should be transferred into federally insured, registered trust accounts. The trustee should also obtain a tax identification number from the IRS for the trust.

As a trustee, you should also ensure that trust assets have the appropriate insurance, which requires evaluating, replacing, or enhancing existing policies. Trust assets should be adequately insured against damage, theft, loss, and personal injury claims. You may also need to ensure that some assets (collectibles, vehicles, etc.) get the regular maintenance or repair they need to preserve their value.

Get help from a skilled Nevada trusts attorney to help you perform your duties as a trustee

You need skilled legal guidance from a law firm familiar with Nevada trust administration to help ensure you can correctly perform the duties of a trustee. At RLK, our experienced Nevada trust attorneys can help you confidently navigate the many intricate documents, reports, and duties that come with being a trustee. Contact our experienced attorneys or call us today at (702) 255-4552.