A trustee is the person who administers a trust. A trust can have one trustee, two trustees, or multiple trustees.
In theory the trustee is the owner of the trust assets. Trustees supervise the disposition of the trusts assets. They handle investments and, in some types of trusts, they make periodic payments to beneficiaries. Trustees must produce accountings on an annual basis to give the beneficiaries an opportunity to see how the trust is being administrated. The trustee is responsible for filing income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and, if there is an estate income tax, with estate taxing authorities on behalf of the trust. Sometimes trustees are given discretionary authority to make dispositions of trust assets to the trust beneficiaries.
In New York the trustee is a fiduciary held to the highest standard of ethical conduct.
Trustees are paid a commission in the State of New York based on the value of the trust assets they administer.
Beneficiaries of a trust receive periodic payments from the trust. The term and nature of the periodic payments are dealt with at the time of the creation of the trust. The individual who creates the trust is called the trustor or settlor. Individuals who receive the balance, if any, of the assets of the trust at the end of the operational period for the trust are called remaindermen.