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By Jason Carrozza

This week, we are going to talk about naming a Trustee. First, let me start off by saying that no person should delay estate planning simply because they can’t decide who would be an appropriate successor trustee. Ignorance is never a solution, and when working with a qualified attorney they should be able to guide you through the process of choosing whom makes the most sense for your family.

When creating your trust you should think about somebody you know, love, and trust, as the trustee. It is the trustee’s job to manage your finances the way you would now – pay the bills, tend to taxes, invest assets, buy and sell property, create a savings/spending plan, provide for your family, and manage and organize your financial affairs.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a trustee:

  • You can always be the trustee of your own revocable living trust. If you are married your spouse can serve as trustee with you.
  • If one spouse passes away the surviving spouse has the opportunity to act as the sole trustee. You can even decide that the surviving spouse must serve with another trustee. It’s also possible to stipulate that the surviving spouse may not serve as trustee at all.
  • Just because you’ve created the trust (you are the grantor), does not mean you have to be the trustee of the trust. Many times parents will simply name their adult children as trustee of their trusts so they do not have to manage their own assets.
  • Usually, you cannot be the trustee of your own irrevocable trust.
  • You always have the option of choosing any close friend or family member. There really aren’t any limitations on who you select. Keep in mind those that you know who are financially responsible and organized. Even if you nominate your third cousin, so long as you have trust in them, it’s a good selection.
  • You can nominate a professional corporate trustee such as a trust company. I tend to strongly advise my clients not to choose this option because it can be very expensive and you’re taking control away from those who may have the best understanding of your beneficiaries and their needs. Nominating a trustee that is either a friend or relative is certainly more cost effective and tends to produce results that are most in alignment with your trust’s purpose.

So, if you’ve delayed creating your trust simply because you are waiting to discover that perfect person, please contact me today, I can help you make a selection. Likewise, if your situation has changed and you think you should reevaluate your previous nomination, please do not hesitate to call.

Until next time.

Wishing you and your family a safe journey,

About the Author
Jason M. Carrozza is a partner and founder of Family Legal Partners, P.C., previously owning Carrozza Law Office, P.C., which focused on estate planning, probate administration, and business formation. He was recognized as a Massachusetts Rising Star by New England Super Lawyers and Boston Magazine in 2014, 2015, and 2016, an honor given to no more than 5% of attorneys in the state. Graduating magna cum laude from New England Law and ranked 3rd in his class, Jason completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Tampa. He gained experience in civil litigation, divorce, corporate, and insurance defense law firms before opening his practice in 2004. Jason is admitted to practice before the Massachusetts Courts, is a trained family law mediator, and a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. He has volunteered for pro bono panels with Senior Partners For Justice, South Middlesex Legal Services, and the New Center for Legal Advocacy. Dedicated to his community, he has served in various leadership roles including vice president of the Bellingham Business Association and Master of Excelsior Lodge of Massachusetts Freemasons. He teaches Estate Planning Basics at the Tri County Continuing Adult Education program and speaks at estate planning seminars throughout the year. An avid baseball fan and history enthusiast, Jason enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Zachary and Madelyn.