What You Need To Know About Choosing An Estate Trustee Under Your Will
From the standpoint of your peace-of-mind, your choice of Estate Trustee is an important one. The person you choose will be the one you entrust to legally administer your Estate after your death. This is an important role, since it involves that person distributing your assets in accordance with the terms of your Will. Thinking about, much less planning for, the moment we transition from this physical world can be overwhelming. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many matters have come to the forefront for many people – including concerns around Estate-planning, preparing for the future, and taking care of loved ones after we are gone. What are some things to think about with planning your Estate?
Consider the Nature of the Role
- What are you appointing someone else to do
- What the job entails specifically
- The chosen Estate Trustee has certain fiduciary obligations (to not only act selflessly, but also to always act in the best interests of t he Estate itself and the beneficiaries
- Make a realistic assessment of the person’s abilities, organizational skills, and willingness to do this type of serious and detailed work
- If an Estate Trustee is unable to fulfill his/her obligations, he/she may need to seek professional guidance, or may be forced to renounce the role and have your choice for alternate Estate Trustee take his/her place
Consider These Factors
- Honesty – are they trustworthy?
- Are they reasonable to deal with?
- Are they capable of working with others in a co-operative manner?
- Do they have objectivity?
- Will they be committed to carrying our your wishes?
- Are they organized?
- Will they be able to work with lawyers, bankers, accountants, insurance advisors, financial planners, and others?
- Can they deal with your relatives and family members?
- Are they geographically close to where you live?
How Many To Choose?
- Two or more people are named as co-Trustees and will make joint decisions (whether it be majority decisions or unanimous
- Several c0-Trustees will require you to make provisions for breaking a tie (by adding a Majority Clause to the appointment)
Naming Your Spouse?
- Ask yourself – is y0ur spouse of an age and physical and mental state to allow for him/her to handle the responsibilities of being the Estate Trustee (or one of them)?
- Are they willing to take on the job of being an Estate Trustee for you?
- Are they prepared, capable, and willing to act on their own as the sold Estate Trustee of your Estate?
- Consider if your potential choice for Estate Trustee has prior experience and qualifications, especially his/her personality
- How will they work and get along with any other co-Trustees?
- How will they interact with the Beneficiaries?
- How will they get along with the other professionals who will be involved in the handling of the Estate (accountant, banker, financial advisor, lawyer etc)
- Always consider naming at least one alternative
- Anticipates situations where the name Estate Trustee can no longer act in connection with the specific issues, is not longer mentally and/or physically capable of acting, no longer willing to act, or has died
Choosing the right Estate Trustee is one of the most important decisions you will make, right behind deciding how you want your Estate divided and passed down to those you love.
Review your Will every three to four years to keep it current and relevant. Circumstances do change!