July 2013 Bar Bulletin
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July 2013 Bar Bulletin

Trust and Estate Administration: Strategies for Minimizing Stress and Maximizing Results

By Stacey L. Romberg


"A trustee shall administer the trust solely in the interests of the beneficiaries."
-RCW 11.98.078(1)

Non-professional fiduciaries serving as personal representatives or trustees often assume their new duties with apprehension. How much time will it take? Will the work be difficult? What if estate heirs or trust beneficiaries start fighting?

This article offers 10 straightforward strategies to help you tackle your fiduciary duties in an efficient, legally sound and effective way.

Take Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Seriously

Washington law requires personal representatives, prior to appointment by the court, to "take an oath, ... that the duties of the trust as personal representative will be performed according to law." Similarly, RCW 11.98.078(1) provides, "A trustee shall administer the trust solely in the interests of the beneficiaries."

Serving as a fiduciary is serious business. If you commit errors, fail to promptly fulfill your obligations or engage in inappropriate conduct, you may find yourself in court attempting to justify your misdeeds before a judge, opposing counsel, and disgruntled heirs and beneficiaries.

Keep Meticulous Records

Carefully track all financial transactions related to the estate or trust. Keep copies of all receipts, checks, bank statements, etc. Additionally, keep detailed time records, especially if you expect compensation for performing your duties.

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