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3 options when deciding who should serve as a trustee

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Trustee |

Trusts can help people achieve numerous estate planning goals. They can help valuable resources bypass probate, minimize conflict among their beneficiaries and even minimize taxes. There are different types of trusts for people to choose from when putting together an estate plan.

Trustors also have a variety of options for how they fund their trust. One of the final key decisions about a trust is who should serve as the trustee. In some cases, the trustor is also the initial trustee, and they need to choose a successor trustee to take over when they eventually lose their testamentary capacity or die.

What options are available for someone choosing the trustee to manage their estate?

A trusted, competent individual

Any individual that a trustor personally knows and trusts to follow their instructions could be a viable candidate for the role of trustee. Often, choosing someone younger is wise. A candidate should live nearby so that geographic distance plays little role in their ability to fulfill their obligations. A history of handling stressful situations well could also make someone a good candidate. Drawbacks to this approach include the possibility of unchecked misconduct on the part of a trusted individual or the risk that the trustee might experience some kind of emergency that prevents them from fulfilling their duties.

Professional fiduciaries

Perhaps someone knows that no matter who they choose from their inner circle, other family members may start a dispute over the matter. Maybe they simply have no one who is healthy, Young and competent enough to adequately fill the role of trustee. Sometimes, trustors decide that a professional fiduciary is their best solution. Trained professionals can manage financial resources and make decisions about the distribution of trust assets. Professional fiduciaries can be particularly useful for those establishing a multi-generational trust.

Co-trustees to balance the arrangement

There is no rule that dictates only one party can help operate a trust. It is often perfectly reasonable to choose two or even more people to serve as co-trustees. Those serving as co-trustees can oversee one another’s behavior. They serve as a deterrent to misconduct and corruption. Co-trustees can also be useful when someone has a candidate in mind but worries that they are too young or inexperienced initially to manage the trust.

Each of these solutions offers certain benefits and unique challenges. Making an informed choice about trustee appointment can have a major impact on someone’s overall estate planning success.


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