Attorney as Trustee

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

Should an Attorney Act as My Trustee?

Since trusts are regularly drafted by attorneys, it may seem convenient for the client to appoint a drafting attorney as a trustee. However, a number of ethical risks may potentially arise.

What Potential Conflicts Arise when an Attorney Acts as Trustee?

Trusts usually include exculpatory language that protects trustees from liability. This may form the basis of potential ethical violations for attorneys who draft the trust. Consider the following:

Double Compensation Limits: What Does This Mean to an Attorney?

Trustee compensation for trust management may be limited when the drafting attorney is a trustee. Otherwise, from the client's point of view, an attorney would have been compensated as a counsel as well as a trustee. On the other hand, from an attorney's point of view, limits on compensation spill into more work for less money. So, it may not be profitable for an attorney to also serve as a trustee.

Preventing Ethical Violations

The following may help mitigate potential ethical conflicts resulting from the attorney-trustee situation as well as from the inclusion of exculpatory terms in the trust. Prior to making your attorney a trustee, you should:

Should I seek More Help from an Attorney?

All the parties involved in trust creation and administration may benefit from qualified estate planning attorney advice. An attorney can draft trust documents, address potential conflicts, and help resolve trustee compensation issues.

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Last Modified: 06-10-2014 04:03 PM PDT

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