Whether establishing a new trust, modifying an existing trust or dealing with a transition of the incumbent trustee, selecting the person or institution who will act as your trustee is one of the most important decisions you and your family members will make.
Many families want to keep everything “in the family,” and it is natural for them to consider using a close family member such as a parent, sibling or cousin for this important position. It is also natural to worry if this choice will come back to haunt you later. Check out the answers to common questions below to see if this choice makes sense for you.
What Skills or Qualifications Should a Trustee Have?
The legal qualifications for a trustee are simple: he/she must be over the age of 18 and legally competent to manage his/her own affairs.
The practical qualifications, however, are much more complicated. A trustee must:
Is It Okay to Use a Family Member as My Trustee?
Absolutely! Choosing a relative as your trustee can offer several advantages. He or she would likely:
Plus, they usually work cheap!
What Are the Disadvantages to Using a Family Member as My Trustee?
Choosing a family member has its drawbacks. A relative may:
Choosing a family member can also cause or exacerbate bad feelings among family members:
No One in My Family Has The Right Skills to Be a Trustee. What Are My Other Options?
With the above qualifications in mind, you have several other places to look to find the best person to carry out your wishes:
Certainly, choosing a trustee is an important decision, so don’t hesitate to contact your Warner attorney for assistance. In the end, with some thoughtful consideration, you can choose the trustee that best meets your needs.
Watch for our upcoming blog posts about the pros and cons of choosing a trustee from your other options. Or for more information, please see Attorney Mark Harder’s article, "Who Can I Trust to Be My Trustee?" or Attorney David Skidmore’s video “Fiduciary ABCs,” both available on the Warner Norcross + Judd website.