One of the most common questions people ask about estate planning is, “Who should I choose as trustee of my trust?” There’s no simple answer. Everyone’s situation is different, so the answer will vary from case to case.
You Have Options
However, there are some things to know as you choose trustees. You don’t have to select an individual – you have the ability to pick an attorney or accountant. You can even choose a bank or financial institution to manage your clients once you’re incapacitated or have passed away.
Qualities To Look For in a Trustee
What qualities should you look for when picking a trustee? You’ll want someone who is honest, responsible and trustworthy. Additionally, you want to pick a trustee who is fiscally responsible and even-tempered. They will be responsible for managing a trust’s assets for your beneficiaries, so they should be organized and keep detailed records.
You have the ability to appoint a co-trustee if you wish. Naming a co-trustee has many benefits because you’ll have more than one individual responsible for the trust. If a trustee begins to mismanage a trust, they’ll have someone who will keep them accountable.
Choose Multiple Trustees
Even if you don’t choose a co-trustee, you’ll need to choose multiple people as successor trustees. Here’s why: If one trustee dies, becomes incapacitated or decides they don’t want to do it anymore, you don’t want your trust hanging in limbo. Name several successors and include a financial institution somewhere on the list. All of your close friends and family will eventually pass away, so it’s imperative you include a bank or trusted organization somewhere in the line.
If you have a complex web of assets or unusually high net worth, you may want to name an institution from the beginning. You always have the option to name a family member or close friend as a co-trustee. Even if you don’t have high net worth, a corporate trustee can still be a smart solution. Corporate fiduciaries manage trusts every day and will remain objective. Additionally, if there are any errors, corporations are prepared to help.
One reason you may not want a corporate trustee is that you lack the familiarity you’d find with an individual trustee. Family members and close friends have an understanding of a family’s dynamic and can help comfort loved ones.
Of course, there are downsides to family members as well. Family members – even the most responsible ones – will lack the objectivity of a corporation. They also won’t be familiar with the intricacies of estate law. It is best to have trustees meet with your lawyer beforehand to ensure your wishes are properly carried out.
If you have any questions as you choose trustees, call 855-FLA-ESTATE. Our team at the Siegel Law Group, P.A. will help you prepare your trust and give you peace of mind.