Choosing a Trustee – Why is this important again?

I’ve admittedly put more thought into what kind of toothpaste I should buy than who I would appoint as my Trustee. While I am young, I know that one day, hopefully a long time from now, who I pick will become very important. Your family could end up struggling in probate court over something that you could easily setup today!

Remember that the person that you choose will have a great deal of power over your money, investments, and assets. You can, and should, have a trust document created to give the Trustee rules that they must follow pertaining to what you left them in charge of.

Do I Have to Pick My Spouse or Children?

Well, he or she might feel complex emotions about it but you do have options. If you have concerns about your relatives acting on your behalf, you could appoint a professional to manage your trust after you’re gone. If you choose to go with a professional such as an attorney or bank, there will, of course, be a fee associated with that. The benefits of picking a professional are simple: they know the law and how to follow it, they won’t play favorites with your beneficiaries, and they are held to a higher standard when it comes to following the rules and keeping up with changes in the law. As for the costs, hiring an independent trustee, such as an attorney, can be less expensive than hiring a bank or trust company because they generally charge a fee for administering the estate as well as a fee for management of the investments. Additionally, most banks won’t handle what they consider to be “small” estates, or estates with less than $1 million in assets. As many don’t have that much, an attorney can be a great alternative.

If there is someone in your life that you trust with the gravity of managing everything that you leave behind, then you should appoint them as the Trustee. First of all, many relatives don’t charge a fee and of the ones that do, it is generally less expensive than hiring a professional. Second, they know you personally and can better make decisions that would be in your best interest. And finally, they can always secure the advice of counsel if they need it.

Advice on Making This Decision

If you are planning on choosing an individual, ensure that they are capable of being objective when it comes to decisions about your trust. You want an individual that understands the rules you laid out in your trust document, someone that will step into your shoes and think about what you want, and someone that will seek and follow advice when needed. The age of the person that you choose is also something to consider. You may not wish to choose children, even if they are adults, if they haven’t fully matured yet. That being said, someone younger than you might be preferable because there’s a good chance they will survive you.

If you are in the market for a professional, it’s good to look for someone that you feel you can trust, that has experience, and that works for a firm or company that is well established in the community. Look for reviews of the person or firm online. Don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting with them and ask how they would handle situations that are important to you. The right trustee will be someone who makes time for you and who really listens to you.

The Probate Pro Can Help!

We offer estate planning services and fiduciary services that can help set you up for the future. Contact us and we can walk you through the process. The consultation is free. or 248.399.3300.