Part of the task of estate planning or updating an estate plan is to select trusted persons or entities to fill the positions of trustees, guardians, power of attorney agents, health care agents and executors. In order to make good decisions, you need to know the ideal characteristics of each role.
- Trustee of trust for minors. The trustee of the trust for your minor children or grandchildren will likely be the same as your settlement trustee. If you have the children joining as a co-trustee when they become of age, be sure that your trustee is good at working with others.
In general, the ideal characteristics for all trustees include trustworthiness, common sense, diligence, good record keeping, and the ability to communicate effectively with professional advisors.
You may need the following trustees:
- Disability trustees
- Settlement (or Death) trustees
- Trustees of your beneficiaries’ trusts
- The guardians of the person for you minor children ideally are loving, open, and always welcoming one more at the table. They love and are comfortable with your child(ren) and want to take on the responsibility. In addition, they share your values and interests.
- Your financial power of attorney agent will likely be the same person you named as disability trustee. See above.
- Your health care agent ideally will be able to honor your wishes concerning important issues such as end of life care and organ donation and can effectively and assertively communicate with medical doctors and other medical professionals.
- Your executor of your will, typically a pour-over will in a trust-based plan, is the same person you named as your settlement trustee. See above.
Many persons will fill these positions with folks who come from their circle of family and close friends. When that is not an option for one or more of the positions, clients can turn to the professionals, both individual and institutional, who provide these services for a living.
An experienced and qualified estate planning attorney will be able to assist you with choosing trustees, guardians, agents, and executors. These attorneys are usually very familiar with qualified professional fiduciaries in the community.