The Invisible Leader: What the New Trustee Should Do

The Invisible Leader: What the New Trustee Should Do

When Trustees finish their work distributing trust assets, they often utter the same comment about the problems they encountered managing a trust: “Nobody knows what to do as a trustee until the job is almost over. It would be nice to know before the job begins.”

The complete answer to this question calls for the template of a textbook. But Tina Fey, late of Saturday Night Live, unknowingly gave the simple answer about the trustee’s job when she described a leader: “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”

The trustee’s job is to be the “Boss” who seeks out and supervises the experts who conduct the administration of the trust. This role involves finding and directing the most competent people available to manage the requirements found in the terms for the instrument known as a trust.

For most trusts, the management team which the trustee will need includes an appraiser, an accountant, an attorney, and a financial advisor. John Aust, PhD., of CP Appraisers in Orange, who has taught Appraisal Classes at Santiago Canyon College for over twenty-five years, describes the trustee’s team as a “Support Group for the Trustee.”

“The smarter the trustee,” Aust explains, “the more likely she is to start out as more of a recruiter than a manager.” Dr. Aust quotes Warren Buffet when he explains how a trustee approaches composing a management team: “The wise man does in the beginning what a fool does in the end.”

Often, when parents who die have left a trust with one of their children as a successor trustee, that successor has never managed a trust before. “Finding a team of advisors is not a challenge,” Professor Aust explains, “but finding a team of competent advisors is a roll of the dice without some experienced help.”

Dr. Aust recommends a simple checklist for the start-up trustee:

In selecting an Accountant, be certain to retain a CPA who has experience with filing Estate Tax Returns, also known as Form 706. These are sometimes needed even for estates well below the taxable level known as the Exemption Equivalent, which in 2016 is $5,450,000.00.

The Trust’s attorney should have experience with both Probate and Trust administration, since some estates will have assets both in and out of a trust, explains Dr. Aust. “If an asset is outside of the trust,” Aust notes, “the Attorney often needs to know how to steer that asset through Probate. “

Appraisers need more than just a license or a degree in finance, explains the professor. “Anticipate that an appraiser is basically a professional witness to the value of the assets,” states Aust. “The trustee needs to work with someone whose numbers are not just professionally correct; they need to be defensible in court by someone who won’t be intimidated by that prospect.”

Finally, the financial advisor should have both the personal professional financial experience with probate and trust administration and a strong financial organization to back up the advisor’s efforts. “The best advisor in the world still needs to have a strong back room to support the job of allocating assets after the original trustees have died,” advises Dr. Aust.

Asked to give a final summary of the job of a trustee, Dr. Aust replied by quoting the Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Tina Fey, Warren Buffet, and Lao Tzu all appear to agree with Dr. Aust about a trustee’s job: Start out in the beginning by finding the right people, be close to invisible, and let the experts do their work.

Donald A. Hunsberger

Hunsberger Law is a full-service estate and busi- ness planning legal firm, with estate planning attorneys and a licensed, professional fiduciary on staff. Connect with Don Hunsberger by calling (714) 663-8000 or visiting www. hunsbergerlaw.com

Latest News

Cultivated Elegance in Carmel Valley

Travel Jody Robinson

Cultivated Elegance  in Carmel Valley

Relax, Reconnect and Retreat to the Bernardus Lodge & Spa Someone once told me that Carmel was about the “...

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Announces 2018 – 2019 Jazz Series

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Announces 2018 – 2019 Jazz Series

Ahmad Jamal Quartet and Shahin Novrasli Kenny Barron Quintet • Kurt Elling Christmas Branford Marsalis Quartet ...

The Story of Modern Dance Revolutionary Isadora Duncan

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

The Story of Modern Dance Revolutionary  Isadora Duncan

Four performances only August 10 – 12, 2018 • Segerstrom Hall Segerstrom Center for the Arts is proud to prese...

A Walk on San Diego's Wild Side

Entertainment Jody Robinson

A Walk on  San Diego's Wild Side

There is no question that San Diego’s Wild Animal Park has taken the concept of safari to the next level. A con...

Pets of the Month

Home Life Jody Robinson

Pets of the Month

Vera is a six year old sweetie with a great personality.  She absolutely loves to be petted and will fol...

Paradise Found. Paradise Automotive Service

Business Showcase Jody Robinson

Paradise Found.   Paradise Automotive Service

As a female, I may be feeding the stereotype when I pen this, but my first thought when I have to take my car...

Stepping into Music History: Nashville, TN

Travel Jody Robinson

Stepping into Music History:  Nashville, TN

It would be difficult to put Nashville on the list of must see places if you didn’t have some kind of appreciat...

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Movie Mondays. Line-Up FREE

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Segerstrom  Center for the Arts   Movie Mondays. Line-Up FREE

Summer Film Series Features: Back to the Future July 9 The Princess Bride July 16 Moonrise Kingdom July 23 T...

What’s in a (Girl’s) Name?

Entertainment Joe D

What’s in a (Girl’s) Name?

What is in a name? Everything, at least in the 1950’s and early 60’s! Our name branded us. Whether it was a nic...

Seaside Dining at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel: enoSTEAK & 180blu

Dining Out Jody Robinson

Seaside Dining at the Ritz-Carlton,  Laguna Niguel: enoSTEAK & 180blu

In the past decade, public attention has shifted to focus on the matter of how we obtain our food, and what exa...

Beacon Carpet Cleaning. Lighting the Way to a Cleaner Space

Business Showcase Sorbet Mag

Beacon Carpet Cleaning. Lighting the Way to a Cleaner Space

When I was a child, I remember my parents moving our family into a new house, with pristine, white carpets. Bea...

Brio Tuscany Grille

Dining Out Sorbet Mag

Brio Tuscany Grille

Winner of the Dana Point Times 2017 “Best of Dana Point” People’s Choice Award for “Best Happy Hour” and “Bes...

Expanding Your Practice at Spa Montage

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Expanding Your Practice at Spa Montage

I giggled my way through my first yoga class. I took one in college, alongside two of my girlfriends, and we ju...

Yanni Celebrates 25th Anniversary of His Iconic “Live at the Acropolis” Concert Segerstrom Center…

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Yanni Celebrates  25th Anniversary  of His Iconic “Live at the Acropolis” Concert  Segerstrom Center for the Arts  June 10, 2018

Legendary performer and composer Yanni will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of “Live At The Acropolis” with a wo...

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Announces 2018 – 2019 Jazz Series

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Segerstrom Center for the Arts Announces 2018 – 2019 Jazz Series

Ahmad Jamal Quartet and Shahin Novrasli Kenny Barron Quintet • Kurt Elling Christmas Branford Marsalis Quartet ...

Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Returns to Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Ina Garten  Barefoot Contessa Returns to  Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. Ina Garten, the American culinary icon, author of 10 New York Times b...

Is Your Enlarged Prostate Interfering with Your Quality of Life?

Health & Wellness Robert G. Pugach

Is Your Enlarged Prostate Interfering with Your Quality of Life?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, (BPH), is a condition in men in which the prostate gland is enlarged and not canc...

Is Your Enlarged Prostate Interfering with Your Quality of Life?

Health & Wellness Robert G. Pugach

Is Your Enlarged Prostate Interfering with Your Quality of Life?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, (BPH), is a condition in men in which the prostate gland is enlarged and not canc...

Pageant of the Masters “Under the Sun”

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Pageant of the Masters “Under the Sun”

July 7 – September 1, 2018Shows Nightly at 8:30pm The Pageant of the Masters is arguably one of the most uniqu...

Luxury for Every Age at the Grand Velas Los Cabos

Travel Jody Robinson

Luxury for Every Age  at the Grand Velas  Los Cabos

When I was 24 and planning a trip with a girlfriend to Cabo San Lucas, our families thought the idea sounded, w...

Prev Next