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Can a trustee also be a beneficiary?

  • Are you wondering -Can a trustee also be a beneficiary?

The short answer is- Yes, so long as the terms of the trust permit it.

It is very common for a  trustee to also be a beneficiary. There are three common situations:

While both spouses are alive, both spouses are typically trustees (the creators of the trust) and beneficiaries (the parties who benefit from the trust).  This is true because most people set up a family trust for their own benefit as well as the benefit of their heirs.

A surviving spouse: Upon the death of one of the persons who set up a trust as a married couple, the surviving spouse often continues to act as the sole trustee and receives the benefits of the trust.

Successor Trustees: A large number of trusts are created by a married couple. These trusts typically provide that the parents act as trustees while they are alive. However, after their passing, usually one or more children become a successor trustee. The parents do this because they are confident that the adult child can arry out the terms of their trust. Almost all parents who name a child as a successor trustee also want that child to benefit from the trust. So this is a third common situation where the trustee is also a beneficiary.

Although most trust allow a trustee to also be a beneficiary, caution should be taken that the trustee does not do anything that is contrary of the terms of the trust or otherwise improper.  Trustees are also fiduciaries. A fidicuary is a person who owes a special duty to look after the assets of the trust and to put the trustors’ and beneficiaries’ interest above other interest.

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