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MSU Extension releases publication outlining trustee responsibilities under a revocable trust

From MSU News Service

Montana State University Extension has released a publication outlining trustee responsibilities under a revocable trust.

"This guide will help readers understand what can and cannot be done in the role of a trustee," said Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension family economics specialist. "The content is for family and friends who have been asked to serve as a trustee, not for professionals or organizations. The information is not legal advice."

In Montana, the term for a person who sets up a trust is settlor. In some other states, the word "trustor" or "grantor" is used. The person who makes decisions about the money or property in the trust is the trustee. A person who receives money or property from the trust is known as a beneficiary.

"The role of a trustee carries legal responsibilities," said E. Edwin Eck, dean emeritus of the Alexander Blewett School of Law at the University of Montana, who added four basic duties that trustees of a revocable trust should keep in mind. "Act only in the best interest of the beneficiary-while the settlor of a revocable trust is alive, they are the beneficiary. Manage the money and property in the trust very carefully. Keep trust property separate from property owned by the trustee personally. Keep good records."

The authority of a trustee is limited to what the trust document and Montana law allow. There may be duties required by Montana law even if they are not listed in the trust document. Trustees should talk to an attorney if there is anything written in the trust document that they don't understand, commented Goetting.

MSU Extension sends appreciation to the Business, Estates, Tax, Trusts, and Real Property Section of the State Bar of Montana for funding this publication.

Corporate Transparency Act

A new federal reporting requirement aimed at reducing corporate crime will affect some Montana farmers, ranchers and businesses, according to Montana State University Extension.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, certain corporations, limited liability companies and other entities created or registered to do business in the U.S. will be required to report information about their beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, within the U.S. Treasury Department.

The new reporting requirement stems from the Corporate Transparency Act, passed by Congress in 2021. It is part of the U.S. government's efforts to make it harder for bad actors to hide ill-gotten gains through shell companies or opaque ownership structures.

A beneficial owner is an individual who has substantial control over or owns at least 25% of a company.

A company created before Jan. 1, 2024, must file an initial report with FinCEN no later than Jan. 1, 2025. A company registered on or after Jan. 1, 2024, must file with FinCEN within 30 days of registration.

Companies will have an ongoing obligation to file an updated report with FinCEN to disclose any changes in previously reported information or to any beneficial owner within 30 days of the change.

Montana farmers, ranchers and businesses can file reports with FinCEN electronically. The form to report beneficial ownership information will not be available until Jan. 1, 2024. Information about the form can be found at

MSU Extension provides links to FinCEN materials that provide information about the new reporting requirements which can be found at

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