One of the most important decisions individuals make in their Estate Plan is who will serve as their Trustee when they are no longer able to do so. Trustees are responsible for managing trust assets and ultimately making distributions from your Trust to your beneficiaries.
The job of Trustee can be a daunting and ultimately thankless task. As an Estate Planning attorney, I often marvel at how people want to undertake the position considering all that it entails. It is a job that involves a lot of time and can ultimately lead to hardship if beneficiaries impose their ill will at the trust distribution towards the Trustee, which often happens, even though the Trustee is just following orders.
This article discusses the key questions to consider in determining who to name as your Trustee. They are as follows:
1. How large and complex are the assets in the trust? If the estate is large and complex, you should consider appointing a corporate trustee. Corporate trustees typically get paid on a percentage basis, and often charge a minimum fee, which may make them too costly for modest estates. However, they provide a level of professionalism and expertise that is often missing when individuals take the position;
2. Can anyone in your family do the job? This depends on if they have the skill set to pull off the job. The job requires a heavy workload and certain skills such as having financial acumen and being a good manager come in handy;
3. What is the family dynamic? If there is disharmony in the family, it may be better to have a corporate trustee to ensure your wishes aren't usurped;
4. Other options. Another common option is to have Co-Trustees. One can be a close friend or family member, and the other can be a professional such as a lawyer or accountant or a corporate trustee. This arrangement often provides the best of both worlds.
When setting up a comprehensive Estate Plan, you should always consult first with an experienced professional to assist you, such as the experienced Michigan Estate Planning attorneys at Barsch & Joswick, PLLC. Call today for a free consultation.