A trust protector is tasked with the job of overseeing a trustee and ensuring that the trust’s purposes are fulfilled. The trust protector’s powers, which are set out in the document that creates the trust, may include helping the trustee with legal, investment and tax matters. The trust protector may have authority to settle disputes among trustees and beneficiaries and to appoint anew trustee if the original one isn’t following the terms of the trust or getting along with the beneficiaries.
Including a trust protector in a trust generally provides greater flexibility to accommodate changes in beneficiary circumstances, the law and to oversee the actions of the trustee. Perhaps more importantly, a trust protector can avoid public disclosure of the trust and its assets by avoiding expensive court proceedings and any attendant publicity.
The Trust Protector may be given authority to:
Make tax decisions that if made by a related or subordinate trustee would jeopardize the tax status of the trust.
Act as an intermediary between the trustee and the beneficiaries when the beneficiaries have concerns or complaints about the trustee’s actions or inaction.
Remove and replace the Trustee when the settlor cannot for tax reasons and/or the beneficiaries would need a court order.
Amend the trust to reflect tax or legal changes, clarify ambiguities or correct scrivener’s errors or omissions.
Resolve disputes between co-trustees.
Review the administration of the trust, including the cost.