Structuring Trust Protector Provisions: Protectors' Powers & Duties, Trustee Oversight, Tax and Fiduciary Risks

Avoiding Unintentional Fiduciary Classification, Key Trust Provisions to Limit Disputes, Navigating State Differences

Note: CPE credit is not offered on this program

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will provide estate planning counsel and advisers with a practical guide to structuring trust protector and directing party provisions into a trust or estate plan. The panel will discuss the specific duties to assign to trust protectors, and potential risks to both the trustor and the protector, as well as detail jurisdictional challenges in determining when to use a trust protector.


Estate planners and trust counsel are increasingly using trust protector provisions in trust documents to preserve the intent of the maker of the trust and resolve disputes between trustees and/or beneficiaries. Trust protector provisions are especially useful in trusts with longer terms.

However, there are variances among states as to the treatment of trust protectors. Estate planning counsel must be aware of tax and fiduciary risks in drafting the provisions to avoid costly consequences.

Trust protectors must oversee the operation of the trust and the actions of the trustees. In some jurisdictions, trust protectors can modify trusts, make elective distributions, change the situs of the trust, and replace the trustee. While no state law defines a trust protector's powers, there are restrictions and consequences if the powers are not properly structured.

Estate planning counsel must use caution in drafting trust agreements, in identifying the trust protector's powers, and in designating the extent to which a trust protector serves as a fiduciary.

Listen as our panel of trust and estate planning attorneys provides thorough guidance for structuring trust protectors or directing party provisions in estate plans.



  1. Trust protector powers related to oversight of a trustee
  2. Powers that may be granted to trust protectors related to operation or modification of trust terms
  3. Determining whether a trust protector is a fiduciary
  4. Trust protector powers that may cause gift or income tax inclusion or loss of GST exemption
  5. Drafting effective trust protector provisions to avoid disputes


The panel will review these and other relevant topics:

  • Uniform Trust Code's position that a trust protector is a fiduciary unless the trust document specifies differently
  • The Uniform Directed Trust Act’s position that a trust protector is subject to the same fiduciary duty as a trustee in the same position
  • What trust protector duties or actions can result in gift or income tax consequences?
  • What are the risks of using trust protectors to either the trust or the beneficiaries?
  • What powers may a trust document grant a trust protector, both in terms of overseeing the trustee's actions and modifying the terms of the trust?
  • Best practices and key trust provisions to avoid unintended consequences


Kalish, William
William (Bill) Kalish

Johnson Pope Bokor Ruppel & Burns

Mr. Kalish focuses his practice on representing individuals and businesses on a broad range of tax and business related...  |  Read More

Langa, Melissa
Melissa Langa

Bove & Langa

Ms. Langa has built a dynamic practice guiding individuals, families, businesses, and charitable organizations in...  |  Read More

Meck, Elizabeth
Elizabeth T. Meck

Vice President, Senior Trust Advisor
Northern Trust

As a member of the Trust Advisory team, Ms. Meck provides fiduciary and legal expertise in the implementation of...  |  Read More

Merritt, Susan
Susan J. Merritt

Senior Vice President and Chief Fiduciary Officer, Wealth Management
Northern Trust

Ms. Merritt is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Orange County region’s fiduciary practice including...  |  Read More

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