When you select a trustee to manage your assets, you will most likely put that person in charge of the distribution of your life savings, including your home, financial accounts, and personal property such as jewelry and collectables. It is, therefore, important to choose someone who meets certain minimum qualifications needed for a trustee. Here are the top three factors I recommend considering when choosing a trustee.
- Choose someone who is trustworthy. The most important qualification of a trustee is that they be trustworthy. Ask yourself, “is this person someone I can trust implicitly to carry out my wishes when I’m gone?”
- Choose someone who is financially responsible. Because a trustee’s duties will include handling your financial accounts and being responsible for your investments, selecting someone who has proven themselves to be financially responsible is very important. A trustee not only needs to handle and administer financial accounts, a trustee is also charged with the responsibility of accounting to the trust beneficiaries regarding all assets, income, and expenses of a trust, so basic record keeping skills are essential.
- Choose someone who is available. It is a good idea to select a trustee who is likely to be available when the need for his or her services arises. Age, health, job demands, and location are all factors that should be considered with selecting a trustee.
While choosing a family member or multiple family members to serve as trustee(s) is common, there are other good alternatives. A friend, for example, may be better able to handle the administrative duties than a family member, and the use of a friend as trustee may help avoid inter-family conflict regarding the administration. Another option is to use a professional fiduciary. Choosing a financial institution to serve as professional fiduciary may be more costly than using a friend or family member, but it can be a good choice in many situations.
If you are setting up a trust and are still unsure of whom to select as trustee, or if you are interested in changing your trustee on an existing trust, give us a call today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.