You don’t need to be a living trust attorney to understand just how difficult estate planning can be. One of the most challenging parts of planning an estate is choosing the appropriate trustee. An estate’s trustee is the person responsible for managing all assets in your Revocable Living Trust. You can choose to have a person, organization or company represent you as the chief trustee.
It is important to find someone who will be dedicated to carrying out your wishes, whether or not that person agrees with the direction you’ve chosen for your estate. You also need to find a trustee who will act with complete responsibility. Here are a few other considerations to think about when selecting a trustee:
The word trust is included in trustee for a reason: the trustee must be a person or an organization that you trust. The trustee is going to have a lot of control over your estate, so it would not be prudent to choose someone who you didn’t feel was capable of carrying out that task.
Depending on the type of trust you’re holding, your family members may or may not be able to serve as trustee. You’ll want to check with your estate planning attorney to ensure that a family member is eligible to be named trustee. You’ll also want to take the ages of potential trustees into account if you are thinking of naming your children or grandchildren. As in most states, the minimum age to be named a trustee in Massachusetts is 21.
There are certain advantages to remaining in the family. The reduced cost is definitely something worth considering. You are likely already paying the fees for a probate lawyer, elder attorney or other professionals. A family trustee would mean one less bill to pay. The main disadvantage of naming a family member as the trustee is that he or she probably has absolutely no experience in these matters. The responsibilities of trustees have grown increasingly complicated, so you may not feel it is your place to give a family member such as huge responsibility to take care of.
Some people feel that estate planning is best left in the family, but there are certain advantages to hiring a professional to carry out the process. A professional advisor understands the entire estate planning process, and will be more likely to keep all records and information organized. The professional can work closely with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to keep everything in order. Although there is some extra cost involved in hiring a professional, you may actually end up saving money in the long run. A professional trustee will know how to minimize estate taxes and other costs typically associated with estate planning. In the end, you’ll want to discuss such considerations with your family so that you can make the appropriate decision.