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What is a Board of Trustees?

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What is a Board of Trustees?

A Board of Trustees is a group of individuals who are selected to oversee the financial decisions and issues for an organization.  This is usually in connection with non-profit organizations, which operate under different laws than corporations or other business forms.  The scope and reach of the authority of the Board of Trustees is typically set out in the organization’s bylaws. 

What Does the Board of Trustees Do?

The Board of Trustees may have broad discretion to perform a variety of tasks and assignments regarding the finances for the non-profit organization.  These may be limited or specifically stated in the bylaws, and can include tasks like:

  • Managing the organization’s assets
  • Overseeing property maintenance for the organization
  • Developing budgets and guidelines for spending
  • Regulating charitable projects to ensure that they stay within the company’s guidelines
  • Developing public policies that are in line with the organization’s goals and purpose

Of course, the exact description and division of the board’s responsibilities are going to vary from organization to organization.  Generally speaking, the Board of Trustees is also subject to a general obligation to invest and manage the organization’s funds in a reasonable and prudent manner. 

How Long Do Trustees Serve on a Board?

Again, this may vary with each individual non-profit.  A typical time to serve on the Board of Trustees is anywhere from 1-3 years.  The bylaws should contain instructions for when and how members of the Board are to be changed. 

What if There is a Conflict Involving the Board of Trustees?

The Board of Trustees is under an obligation to act reasonably, and to avoid decisions that are contrary to the organization’s goals.  Conflicts involving the board can result in various consequences, including:

  • Removal of a specific member
  • Payment of damages for losses caused by negligence or other violations
  • Rewriting of the organization’s bylaws

Again, each remedy may be prescribed differently in each situation, depending on the nature of the organization as well as the type of legal issue involved. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Board of Trustee Legal Issues?

Dealing with a Board of Trustees is very important for the success of any non-profit organization.  You may wish to hire a lawyer in your area if you need assistance with any legal issues involving a board of trustees.  Your attorney can provide you with valuable legal advice on your issue, and can help represent you in filing a lawsuit if necessary. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 04-18-2013 11:32 AM PDT

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