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How to Choose a Trustee



When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. A trustee does what you do right now with your financial affairs - collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records, and generally keep things organized and in good order.

Who Can Be Your Trustee

If you have a revocable living trust, you can be your own trustee. If you are married, your spouse can be a trustee with you. This way, if either of you become incapacitated or die, the other can continue to handle your financial affairs without interruption. Most married couples who own assets together, especially those who have been married for some time, are usually co-trustees.

You do not have to be your own trustee. Some people choose an adult son or daughter, a trusted friend or another relative. Some like having the experience and investment skills of a professional or corporate trustee (e.g., a bank trust department or trust company). Naming someone else as trustee or co-trustee with you does not mean you lose control. The trustee you name must follow the instructions in your trust and report to you. You can even replace your trustee should you change your mind.

When to Consider a Professional or Corporate Trustee

You may need to consider a professional or corporate trustee if you are elderly, widowed, or in declining health and have no children or other trusted relatives living nearby. Or your candidates may not have the time or ability to manage your trust.