(Part 1 of 2)

This is part one of two discussions about California trustee investment and management responsibilities. This is a complicated topic. Each situation needs to be evaluated on its own. Most likely no two situations are the same. You should consult legal counsel.

The trustee has the duty to invest trust property for the benefit of the beneficiaries, subject to restrictions or limitations stated in the trust. The trustee’s investment powers are provided by the terms of the trust. Always read the complete terms of the trust first. If not derived from the trust, the investment powers are also derived by statute, case law and the factual circumstances. You can refer to Probate Code §§16200(a) and (b) and 16047. Generally, the trustee has the duty to make trust assets economically productive.

The trustee is subject to the Uniform Prudent Investor Act, unless the trust provides for a greater or lesser standard of care. You can refer to Probate Code §§16045 through 16054. The trustee should carefully read the trust terms and the Uniform Prudent Investor Act.

A trustee should invest and manage the trust assets as a prudent investor would, by considering the purposes, terms, distribution requirements, and other circumstances of the trust. The trustee should exercise reasonable care, skill, and caution.

A trustee’s investment and management decisions relating to individual assets and courses of action are evaluated in the context of the trust’s portfolio as a whole and as a part of an overall investment strategy reasonably suited to the trust’s risk and return objectives.

Pursuant to Probate Code §16047 the trustee should or may consider such matters as economic conditions, inflation or deflation, tax consequences, the role of each investment or action within the overall trust portfolio, the expected rate of return from income and appreciation, other financial resources of the beneficiaries known to the trustee, needs for liquidity, regularity of income, preservation and appreciation of principal, and asset special value or relationship to the purpose of the trust or the beneficiaries.

The trustee should locate and take possession of the trust assets, and develop an investment strategy suited to the purpose of the trust. You can refer to Probate Code §§16006 and 16049.

Part two contains the remaining discussion and will be posted shortly.

Dave Tate, Esq.,


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