Once you’ve decided that a trust is the right estate planning tool for you, the next tough choice to make is who will be your trustee or trustees. A trustee is the person who controls the assets in your trust for the benefit of you and your loved ones. While it is possible to be the trustee of a trust that you establish, at some point you’ll probably want a successor trustee to take over for you after you pass. The choice of a trustee is an extremely important one. While you have to be able to trust the person you put in control of the assets in your trust, you also need to take into consideration that there are many duties and responsibilities that a trustee has. The duty to be impartial, to not engage in self-dealing, to invest prudently and to properly account for all transactions of the trust are only some of the many important duties of the trustee.
So who should be your trustee? Many people prefer to be the trustee of their own revocable trust until they become incapacitated or die, then their spouse or child to be the successor trustee. While being chosen as a trustee might instill a sense of confidence in someone, it also imposes many important duties that may not seem obvious to the trustee.
How can I help my trustee? I prefer to meet with all current and potentially future trustees to make sure that they understand what their role is in your trust. While a trust is a private instrument that doesn’t require administration through a probate court, that doesn’t mean that your trustee should have to take over after you die or become incapacitated without any additional information. Call my office to see what I can do for you.