The Trustee is the Most Important Person in Your Estate Plan

Trustee qualitiesA Trustee could make or break your estate plan!

Many folks will create a trust to protect their estate and their beneficiaries from probate, provide asset protection to their beneficiaries and plan for a potential special need. However, having an estate plan that works can depend on having the right trustee. This individual will be making all of the decisions after you're gone, so you’d better choose wisely.

There are key qualities to look for in a Trustee.

Fiduciaries. A fiduciary is an individual with a legal and moral obligation to put the clients' interests first. A new fiduciary rule requires that all advisors who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to consider themselves fiduciaries. However, some financial advisors may or may not act as fiduciaries. If they commit to being a fiduciary and have the necessary knowledge and experience to be a good trustee, any type of financial advisor can do the job.

Qualifications. A trustee may need to make critical decisions about how to manage the assets in your trust. He or she must possess the right background to make informed decisions. Estate trustees should have training in investing and taxes and possibly business management experience if you are a business owner.

Diplomacy. A trustee takes control of a stressful family situation, so he or she must be sensitive and get along with your beneficiaries. When considering potential trustees, look at their interpersonal skills in addition to their business and financial skills. You might also get your beneficiaries together with the potential trustee to see if they get along.

On the Younger Side. Let’s be candid. You need to pick a qualified trustee who’s going to be around after you're gone. That means they should be people who are significantly younger than you are and in good health. You should also name a "successor trustee" who will assume control when the first trustee is no longer available. You can also designate a law firm or financial firm as your trustee, but an institutional trustee will be more expensive than individual trustees. They often set their fees at 1% of the value of the estate. An institutional trustee may also be confined by its internal company policies and not your wishes.

Review Your Choice. Your choice may be ideal now, but not so five years down the road. They may be unavailable, estranged, have health issues or have other issues preventing them from serving. Revisit your estate plan on a regular basis, as your wishes may change. At the same time, reevaluate your trustees.

Take charge and take good care of your family even after you're gone.  We can help you with that planning.  Why not give us a call today at 757.259.0707 or ‘request a consultation’ online?

Reference: Motley Fool (July 11, 2017) “How to Find the Right Estate Trustee”


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.