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"Active Trustee"

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In a revocable living trust you, the grantor, are the

trustee. Usually in a run-of-the-mill living trust, which I have drafted

in California,

the trustee just transfers properties into the trust and that’s that. Upon your death, the successor trustee distributes

the properties to the beneficiaries. An

"active trustee" refers to a trustee with

duties in addition to just the duty of handing over trust assets to the beneficiaries.

Such duties may include collection and transfer

to the beneficiaries of profits, rents, and/or sale proceedings. Your trust may or may not have the trustee

doing these other duties. In the trust instrument, the more general term "trustee" is used and there's no need to use "active trustee" in there.

Larry L. Doan, Esq.

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Thank you Mr. Doan for your reply. Currently my CPA is my Trustee. He does my personal taxes, but I pay him for this with personal funds, not from the Trust. He is charging me a quarterly fee, taken out of the Trust funds. Is this unethical? It seems to me that I should be the Trustee while I'm still living. He should be the Successor Trustee and he should not be charging the Trust Trustee fees until after I die. Correct?

Thank you.

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“Currently my CPA is my Trustee.” Now that could change things quite a

bit. Is he the trustee of your living

trust, or trustee of something else? Obviously,

I do not know the language of your trust document and what state you are in, but

in the typical living trust, you are also the trustee while living so you make

all the decisions regarding the trust properties. Normally, the grantor wants complete control

over the trust properties so they name themselves as the trustee while

alive. If you want to name someone else

as trustee while alive, that is a more specialized living trust and has

important tax consequences and means you give up control over trust

properties. It sounds like you may have

such a living trust, which I’m not as familiar with. In a typical living trust, the successor

trustee does not have any responsibility until the grantor dies or is


So, perhaps in your particular trust document, the CPA is

the one in charge of and managing your trust properties, and the trust specifies

that his compensation is to be paid from the trust funds. That would seem to be why he is charging you

a quarterly fee taken from the funds. If

you are unhappy with that arrangement and only want him to serve as the

successor trustee, then you would have to set up another living trust. You should consult a local estate planning

lawyer. The above post is just my

limited opinion and should not be construed as legal advice.

Larry L. Doan, Esq.

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