In trusts, there is a different meaning for the words "shall" and "may" and it can make all the difference when determining if for instance the Trustee is obligated to do something or has the discretion to do something or not do something.

Unless otherwise specifically provided in the trust document or by the context in which used, the use of the word shall in a trust is to impose a duty, command, direction, or requirement. The word may is to allow or permit, but not to require.

Secrets of Great Estate Planning Book

In the context of a Trutee, when the word shall is used, it is intented to impose a fiduciary duty on the Trustee. When the word may is used, it is intended to empower the Trustee to act with the Trustee's sole and absolute discretion unless otherwise stated in the trust document.

When the words may not are used in reference to the Trustee, it specifically means the Trustee is not permitted to take some stated action.

If you need help updating or establishing your estate plan, please reach out to us. We are here to help. Our intake department can be reached at (760) 448-2220.

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