If part of your estate plan includes the creation of a trust, you want to ensure that you choose the right trustee. While your trust will specify the kinds of responsibilities and limitations your trustee will have, trustees typically come from one of two sources: either family members or professional organizations. Let’s take a look at both of these options so you can determine which choice best suits your trust.
Family members are a popular choice for trustee primarily because these are people you know well, people you can trust, and people who will often not charge the trusts a fee for their services. While some trusts do provide family member trustees with compensation, smaller trusts which do not require a lot of work on the trustee’s behalf are best suited for a family member trustee. However, if the trust beneficiaries are other family members, you may want to reconsider a family member trustee because the relationships between the beneficiaries and the trustee can impact whether any legal conflicts arise.
Organizations or Professionals
Organizational trustees include bank trust departments and trust companies. In each larger community, there are also individuals, commonly called private or professional fiduciaries, who provide trustee services. An organizational or professional trustee is often the best choice if the trust owns a large amount of property, or if you expect the trust to last a considerable amount of time. For example, a small testamentary trust designed to manage property on behalf of young children can usually be run by a family trustee. However, a larger trust that may last for numerous decades will typically require the services of a professional trustee, or at least a professional trustee who can take over if the original trustee should die.
To make the best decision in trustee selection, work with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney. He or she will be able to assist in analyzing which type of trustee is best for you. He or she will also be familiar with professional and institutional trustees in your community.