Trustees have a much broader set of responsibilities than investment managers, with whom they are often compared. In addition to the financial management of trust assets, a trustee’s responsibilities include evaluating and making appropriate distributions from the trust, keeping accurate records of the trust’s administration, communicating with and accounting to the trust grantors and beneficiaries, and filing trust tax returns.

In addition to these general responsibilities, a trustee is required to adhere to a set of duties (both those laid out in the trust instrument and under state law) that focus on confidentiality, impartiality, loyalty, and skill in administering the trust in accordance with its terms.

Different types of entities and individuals are able to serve as trustees. The standard reference work on trusteeship, A Trustee’s Handbook by Loring & Rounds, identifies several trustee options in addition to that of the independent professional trustee, including lawyers, brokers, banks, and family members. However, in the view of this standard manual of trustee practice, the ideal scenario is for grantors and beneficiaries to work with a professional trustee at a private trust company. Rice, Heard & Bigelow is one such company that has been proudly serving its individual, family, and charity clients for more than 200 years.