An accountant is someone who maintains financial records, prepares tax returns and audits financial statements. A trust accountant performs these duties for trust accounts.
A trust is a legal contract that is a fiduciary relationship. Management and oversight of trust accounts is through a trustee, who has a fiduciary responsibility to follow the terms of the trust and ensure that investment of trust assets occurs properly. People often set up trusts to hold assets that they will pass on to their beneficiaries when they dies. Part of a trustee's duty is to file any taxes due and account for the trust assets, which can be complex. Typically, the trustee retains an accountant that specializes in trust to complete this duty.
The most common trust tax return is a Form 1041, and trust accounts have different tax rates and rules regarding payment of tax. Since trust accountants specialize in trust, they usually have dedicated software to assist in preparation of trust tax returns. This assists the trust accountant since the IRS requires trust tax returns on Form 1041 to be submitted electronically unless there is an acceptable reason for filing by paper.
As with most accountants, a trust accountant usually has at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. Many trust accountants hold CPA designations or master's degrees in tax since the field is complicated, and rules regarding trust tax change frequently.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that accountants as a group, which includes trust accountants, are expected to have higher-than-average job growth for the period of 2008 to 2018. Trust accountants with advanced education and especially those with a CPA designation can expect to have the best job opportunities available.
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