You might be surprised to know that investing goes hand-in-hand with several activities related to estate planning and estate administration. First, people use investing to build wealth over time, adding to their estates and building future stability for themselves and their heirs. Likewise, someone who is put in a fiduciary or trustee role over money left to heirs or a charity might also need to be aware of how that money is invested.
A trustee might be asked to manage trusts for minor children, dependents, heirs or a charity following the death of the estate holder. While management of money in the trust is usually governed, at least in part, by the language of the trust, some trustees might oversee investment decisions or help the beneficiaries of the trust do so.
Because a trustee is in a fiduciary relationship over the funds of a trust, he or she is charged with making the best possible decisions about that money. Obviously that means the trustee can’t use money in ways that are not allowed by the trust and can’t knowingly make decisions that are not in the best interest of the beneficiaries. What is less obvious is that the trustee has some obligation to attempt to make good decisions.
If you are involved in managing investments at all as part of your trustee duties, then understanding basic investment strategies is wise. One Forbes contributor provides some tips for avoiding common investment mistakes. He says to avoid being too conservative, avoid relying on a single type of investment to drive a portfolio, don’t invest based on past performance only and avoid paying fees that are unnecessarily high for investment opportunities.
In addition to educating yourself on smart money tactics, as a trustee, you should also understand your legal obligations to an estate. Working with a legal professional during estate administration processes helps ensure that you don’t make legal mistakes that put yourself or the beneficiaries you are responsible for at risk.
Source: Forbes, “5 Common Investment Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make,” Erik Carter, accessed Dec. 10, 2015