Duty 3: Keep the trust property separate

Never mix money or property in Rose’s trust with your own or someone else’s. Mixing money or property makes it unclear who owns what. Confused records can get you in trouble with Rose, Rose’s family, any other beneficiaries, and also with government agencies, such as adult protective services and the police or sheriff.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Separate means separate. Never deposit the trust’s money or property into your own or someone else’s bank account or investment account.
  • Never hold title to the trust’s money and property in your own name. Every document should show the owner of the assets as either in the name of the trust (like “the Rose Roe Revocable Trust”) or, better yet, in your name as trustee of the Rose Roe Revocable Trust. This is so other people can see right away that the money and property belongs to the trust and not to you.
  • Know how to sign as trustee. Sign all checks and other documents relating to the trust’s money or property to show that you are Rose’s trustee. For example, you might sign “John Doe, as trustee for the Rose Roe Trust.” Never just sign “Rose Roe” or “John Doe.” Signing things like a contract in your own name without indicating that you are signing as trustee may put your own money and property at risk.
  • Pay Rose’s expenses from the trust funds, not yours. Spending your money and then paying yourself back makes it hard to keep good records. If you really need to use your money, save receipts for the expense and keep a good record of why, what, and when you paid yourself back.