Gilroy Today 2009 09 Fall | Page 30

Legally Speaking

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that often require professional advice . Tax laws are perhaps more obvious . Less obvious are requirements like registering with the Office of the California Attorney General ’ s Registry of Charitable Trusts .
Government Officials The same duties of loyalty , care , fairness and due process that apply in private organizations apply with even greater force in government . Laws to enforce the duty of loyalty generally prevent government employees from having business transactions with their agencies and from serving on the boards of agencies that have overlapping jurisdiction or engage in transactions with each other . In addition , there is a requirement of openness that exposes the actions and records of public officials to public disclosure to promote accountability .
Trusted Helpers The highest requirement of loyalty and care applies to trustees , guardians and persons in similar fiduciary roles . Good recordkeeping and good , written communication are important to document the trustee ’ s lack of personal benefit . Actions may require prior written notice to beneficiaries and may also require court approval . A trustee with multiple beneficiaries must be careful to comply with the terms of the trust and to treat all beneficiaries impartially , except to the extent the trust ’ s terms provide otherwise . In additional to tax reporting obligations , a trustee or guardian may be required to periodically account to the beneficiaries , and , in some instances , a court , to show that he or she has been loyal and careful . A trustee should be careful to avoid even
the appearance of impropriety ; for example , the trustee should not make a loan of trust property to him or herself , even at the market rate of interest , unless the trust document specifically authorizes such a loan .
Following the Golden Rule , the Four-Way Test , the Six Pillars of Character , and the duties of loyalty and care , fairness , due process and openness will reduce , but not eliminate , the need for legal advice . When you need us , the attorneys at Noland , Hamerly , Etienne & Hoss and the other members of your local Bar Association are ready to help you do right .
If you have comments on this article , questions that might be answered in a future article , or other questions or comments , please feel free to contact me at llowrey @ nheh . com .

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