When planning for your loved ones’ future, you may consider creating a trust to protect assets set aside for them. If you create a trust, you will need a reliable and trustworthy person to name as the trustee who will manage the trust. Choosing the correct trustee is an important decision because he or she will be responsible for carrying out your wishes when managing the trust.
The trustee will be responsible for duties such as managing investments, paying bills, preparing tax returns, and managing other accounts within the trust.
Before choosing a trustee, consider the following points that will help you determine who will be best suited for the role.
1. A trustee must be over the age of eighteen and capable of managing his or her own affairs successfully.
2. The trustee should be completely trustworthy and committed to the beneficiary’s best interests.
3. The trustee should be able to make sound judgments and have a strong understanding of his or her duties as the trustee. While not required, legal or financial expertise is valuable.
4. If a person is going to be the trustee of a special needs trust, knowledge of public benefits and how to avoid invalidating these benefits is beneficial.
5. The trustee should be someone who is healthy and will be able to continue managing your trust for many years to come.
6. A trustee should have the time to devote to managing your trust effectively. If the person you are considering is very busy, you should consider other candidates before making your final choice.
7. If you don’t know someone who would be a suitable trustee, consider hiring a professional trustee or institution to manage your trust. Professional trustees may include a trust company, accountant, lawyer, or investment manager or advisor. However, professional trustees or institutions do charge a fee or percentage to manage your trust.
8. Consider co-trustees if you would like to have a trusted friend or family member and a professional trustee manage your trust together.
9. Understand your family dynamics when selecting a trustee. If you are choosing a family member to be the trustee, try to avoid conflicts between family members and explain to other relatives why you have chosen a particular person to be the trustee.
10. If you make a relative or friend your trustee, decide who will be the successor in the event that the person is no longer able to manage your trust.
After you have chosen a trustee, it is advisable to reexamine your choice every few years to ensure that your trustee is still the best choice for your needs. If circumstances change, you may need to assign a different trustee who is better suited to the required responsibilities.
If you need assistance preparing a trust or choosing the right trustee, contact Newman Elder Law. If you want to learn more about our elder law services, click here.