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, Amy