Trust Administration for Trustees

trust administrationMissouri adopted its version of the Uniform Trust Code in 2004. Section 456.8-813.1.(1) of the Revised Statutes of Missouri states in part, “A trustee shall keep the qualified beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed about the administration of the trust and of the material facts necessary for them to protect their interests.”

What Does “Reasonably Informed” Mean?

One of the duties of the trustee is that, within 120 days from accepting a trusteeship, the trustee must notify the beneficiaries and provide them with information regarding the trust. Section 456.8-813.3, RSMo., imposes a duty on the trustee to send to the beneficiaries “. . . a report of the trust property, liabilities, receipts and disbursements . . . a listing of the trust assets, and, if feasible, their respective market values.” Missouri law requires a trustee to provide this information not only to the primary beneficiaries of the trust, but also to the respective contingent beneficiaries. The comments of the Uniform Trust Code to §456.813, RSMo., state that the report required to be produced by the trustee, “ . . . might even be satisfied by providing the beneficiaries with copies of the trust’s income tax returns and monthly brokerage account statements if the information on those returns and statements is complete and sufficiently clear. The key factor is not the format chosen, but whether the report provides the beneficiaries with the information necessary to protect their interests.” The duty to provide information to contingent beneficiaries is a significant change from the “. . . prior Missouri statutory provision that only required an accounting to income beneficiaries.” (Missouri comments to §456.8-813, RSMo.) Trustees who have a duty to pay the debts of a deceased settlor may publish a notice in a newspaper of the settlor’s home county once a week for four consecutive weeks. Any debts not presented to the trustee within six months from the date of publication could result in the debt being forever barred. (§456.5-505.4(1), RSMo.)

Oversights Can Lead to Severe Repercussions

The law favors full and complete disclosure by the trustee to all the primary and contingent beneficiaries. The duty of a trustee to inform and report is many times one of the reasons cited in a lawsuit by the beneficiaries against the trustee for breach of the trustee’s fiduciary duty. It is important to note that trustees have many other statutory duties imposed upon them. If you are serving as a successor trustee and need assistance administering a trust, please feel free to contact our office.

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