As you prepare to meet with your estate planning attorney, you will undoubtedly agonize over questions like these: Who will take care of my kids when I die? How will I leave my assets? How will I treat my son, Bobby, whom I haven’t heard from in years? Who takes care of me when I’m incapacitated? Etc., etc....
But one of the most important questions-that isn’t often treated that way-is: who will be my trustee? Too often trustees are selected by default, like choosing a brother or sister just because they are family or the oldest child just because he or she is the oldest-as if being trustee is based on primogeniture. Too often little consideration is given to this important decision, and your beneficiaries and family are left to deal with it.
See, even the best lawyer, asked to draft a “bullet-proof” trust, can’t protect against the unfit or, even worse, rogue trustee. So to help make sure that all the consideration you’ve given to how each piece of your property will be distributed isn’t for naught, select the right trustee. The one who has the acumen and fortitude to carry out your wishes. The one who will serve as the right manager of your assets. The one who understands what his or her expectations are.
To help you make that decision, here is a list of some of the qualifications your trustee should have:
1. Investment knowledge. This includes knowledge of the financial markets, and knowledge of the beneficiaries’ needs.
2. Tax and accounting skills. Trustees will need to make tax decisions for the trust, which will impact the beneficiaries. Also, trustees are often required to give the beneficiaries annual accountings.
3. People skills. Trustees should have the ability to deal with the beneficiaries and all their particularities and demands.
4. Managerial Skills. Trustees should be able to multi-task and manage advisers (i.e., lawyers, accountants, and investment advisers).
5. Integrity. Most importantly, trustees should have the utmost integrity.
Contact any one of our qualified attorneys at the law office of Jeffrey Burr to discuss choosing the right trustee for you.