This week we already have reviewed some considerations when choosing an executor for your will. Now, we turn our focus to choosing a trustee to handle that inheritance once the executor has finished "executing" the will in probate.
In contrast to the executor whose responsibilities have a definite beginning and a certain end, the role of trustee can continue ... for generations.
Recently, The Bryan County (GA) News published an article you will find interesting if you have or are considering a trust as part of your estate plan.
The article, titled “What should you know about trusts,” offers some wise advice.
For starters, the article notes that you need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Trust planning is not "amateur hour," after all. Providing for and protecting everyone you love and everything you have is at stake, after all!
Trusts are designed to be highly effective estate-planning vehicles, but they also can be extremely complex.
Truly, selecting a trustee is an essential matter. Your attorney can help guide you here, too.
The trustee is legally bound to manage the trust’s assets for your beneficiaries.
Before you select a family member as trustee, the article suggests that you ponder these questions:
- Does he or she have the experience and knowledge to manage your financial affairs in a competent manner?
- If she must make a decision that may impact family members, will she act in a fair and unbiased manner?
- Will naming a family member as trustee create issues for the family?
- Does your prospective trustee have the time to manage your trust?
- Does she want this major responsibility?
- Do you have another person in mind to serve as trustee if the trustee you selected can’t do it?
The original article emphasizes that you must invest considerable thought into whom you ask to take on this role. While you can ask a financial institution to serve as trustee, you naturally should ask about costs and the services they provide.
Regardless, once you embark on your estate plan it is prudent to engage your family in the process and inform them about your wishes.
Yes, people get hurt feelings and mad if they have no idea what to expect.
Consequently, get your loved ones on board with your estate plans now, so all will proceed as planned with as little drama as possible later.
I routinely advise clients to appoint family members as trustees, as long as they are trustworthy and have common sense.
Note: Some children become adults and others just get older.
You want to appoint the former, but make provisions for them to bring in outside help if the latter become problematic.
One of the best articles I have ever seen on the subject of selecting a trustee was in the May-June 2015 issue of the Journal of the Missouri Bar.
Author Jay E. Harker provides an excellent treatment on the subject and the article is titled Apples to Apples: Three Steps to Choosing the Right Trustee.
I highly recommend that you read Mr. Harker's article and share it with your family members and estate planning attorney.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Bryan County (GA) News (August 2, 2015) “What should you know about trusts”