One of my very first posts on this blog generally discussed the legal duties of trustees under Arkansas law. While that post summarized some of the more abstact legal principles at issue, a much more common question posed to me and other attorneys at dinner parties and elsewhere is what are the practical duties of trustees (and, similarly, the practical duties of estate executors, a.k.a. personal representatives).
With this in mind, a couple of days before Christmas while doing some last-minute book shopping at Barnes & Noble for some friends, I happened to come across one of the best little books that I have seen on the subject. Specifically, I was somewhat surprised to discover that "Estate & Trust Administration For Dummies" is a great resource for lay persons charged with the responsibility of serving as trustee for a trust or executor for an estate. Even though I am historically the not-so-proud purchaser of multiple "Dummies" books on various mundane topics which I am too embarrassed to detail here, I must admit that I did not expect much substance when I first cracked open this text on the sparsely-populated "Law" aisle at B&N. However, much to my surprise there was a tremendous amount of solid, easily understandable information there that---if utilized---should help any trustee or executor more ably and easily perform their duties and reduce the likelihood of future estate, trust or probate litigation.
So, if you're a current or future fiduciary and have a bookstore gift card that you need to burn through, consider heading over to the probably-vacant leather chairs next to the Law section at B&N and checking out this book. Considering the expense of this type of litigation, it might be the best 15 bucks that you'll ever spend.
In closing, thanks for checking out the "Wealth Wars" blog over the first 3-4 months of its existence. I wish you a happy and prosperous 2010.
UPDATE: The Arkansas Bar Association's website also has a free publication that may come in handy as well: Handbook For Personal Representatives In Arkansas. It is more of a very broad overview than anything else, but is still helpful since it is Arkansas-specific.