Columbia, MD asked in Estate Planning for Maryland

Q: How do I decline being a trustee after having accepted?

My friends asked me to be the trustee of their son who has a disability. I didn't know what that meant and I tried to decline and they told me it wasn't that hard. That I would be the local person and his sister would be making the decisions. I didn't research it and agreed. I've recently been reading about it and it's a lot of responsibility and I don't want to be the trustee anymore. We are close friends and I'm afraid of what it will do to our relationship. And I'm not sure how to go about resigning from the position. Do I need a lawyer to do it?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Marie-Yves Nadine Jean-Baptiste
Marie-Yves Nadine Jean-Baptiste
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Towson, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Without seeing the trust agreement, I can only answer based on the facts you have provided. Usually the trust agreement will advise you as to how to resign as the trustee. If it's silent, then I suggest you talk to the sister about passing the torch and then following up your resignation in writing. Good luck!

Cedulie Renee Laumann
Cedulie Renee Laumann
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crownsville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: First, it is great that you took the time to research what a Trustee does!

A Trustee is not the same as a guardian, but a Trustee bears responsibility for overseeing whatever assets are placed in their care. Trustees routinely hire professionals to assist (e.g., hiring a lawyer to help administer, a tax preparer if there is need to file taxes, a realtor if there is need to sell property, a financial advisor if the assets are significant, etc.)

Typically parents will serve as initial Trustees for whatever trust they create, so presumably this involves the role of back-up trustee.

No one can be compelled serve as Trustee. A Trustee can politely decline to serve, or if they are already serving can resign. If already acting as Trustee, the Trust document usually describes the preferred way to resign (e.g., by writing sent to the next successor trustee and/or beneficiaries with 30 day notice or something like that).

While an attorney can help a Trustee draft a resignation letter, there should be no need for lawyer assistance to decline the role. However, if the role seems too difficult a prospective Trustee can simply say something along the following lines: "I'm honored that you would want to entrust me with managing things for Johnny, but after researching what the position would involve I'm not comfortable with the responsibility and will decline to serve."

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