When it comes to choosing to whom to entrust your estate, you likely have several options. However, these choices can be tied up in financials, complicated emotions, and personal history, leaving some parties potentially hurt by the choice. You will want to consider several questions when deciding the way you want your estate to be handled after you are no longer around.
Here, an experienced trust lawyer breaks down the critical points involved in choosing a trustee for your estate.
What Qualities To Look For In A Trustee?
To state the obvious, you should only select a trustee or trustees who you deeply trust to execute the distribution of your estate fairly, as you would have wanted.
Select someone who is financially well-versed and responsible with money and assets. This could be an attorney, an accountant, a spouse, or a company. Your decision is dependent on your willingness to pay professional fees and who you think is best suited to distribute your estate without getting too tied up in the emotions and drama that can accompany estate distribution.
Choosing A Family Member
The first route for many people is to entrust their estate to a family member, such as a spouse, sibling, or child. Consider the advantages and disadvantages to making this decision.
The people who you trust the most to handle your trust are likely your own family members. Often family members know your wishes best and can act in the best interest of the rest of the family.
Selecting someone who you are personally close with and who understands how your family operates may be a smart choice. They may know best how to go about distributing to different beneficiaries and mediating any conflict that may arise.
On the other hand, an array of potential issues can spring up depending on your family dynamics and who you specifically choose to be your trustee or trustees.
Some people may resent another family member who you choose as your trustee. In some cases, unfortunately your trustee may not be able to distribute your estate equitably due to personal biases or complications in your family.
Although you may love and trust someone very much, your familial love for someone is not the only factor to consider. Estate allocation is something that requires objectivity, calm, and a clear head. If you do not feel comfortable choosing a family member, you may want to look into a trust lawyer.
You are not the only person involved in making this decision. Have a conversation with the person who you are considering naming your trustee, especially if they will be a sole trustee. Make sure they understand the heavy responsibility of managing your trust when you will not be there. This process can strain relationships and also shift the difficulty of tough choices onto a trustee, which can be especially difficult if they are still grieving.
You may also decide to make family members co-trustees with a professional or trust company or make more than one family member the Trustees to alleviate the burden on one individual.
Choosing A Trust Lawyer Or Other Professional
If you decide not to select a family member or friend as your trustee, you have other options. Another option is a third party such as a lawyer, either in addition to or substitution for a sole trustee who is a family member or friend.
Non-family members offer the advantage that they are more impartial and may be able to execute their duties as trustee without emotions getting in the way. A trust lawyer, financial advisor, or accountant would likely have experience and competency at handling estates, which may assure you that your estate will be distributed equitably and according to your wishes.
Another advantage of this option is avoidance of familial conflict. For instance, if you entrusted your estate to a spouse who you remarried instead of your child, or if you choose one child as your trustee over another, that could cause tension and disruption to the process. A trust lawyer may be able to distribute your estate to beneficiaries without the same emotion as a family member distributing your estate to other family members.
However, you may be reluctant to trust something as important as your estate to someone who is not part of your family, which is an understandable concern.
If you want to go the route of a professional because of their expertise and objectivity, make sure they have adequate experience dealing with trusts. Ask them about their history and their fees so you can understand the cost of paying for their administrative services.
You don’t have to make the choice between exclusively naming a family member or exclusively naming a professional like an attorney or accountant to handle your estate. You may find you want to name multiple trustees, such as a spouse and an attorney, in order to combine intimacy with your family and professional experience.
Talk To An Experienced Trust Lawyer
If you want consultation from a trust lawyer with decades of legal expertise, contact the law offices of Gary I. Handin, P.A. today at 954-796-9600.