Trust Your Trustee?

FiduciaryAlthough my clients have heard this from me on more than one occasion, it bears repeating: the most important decision you make in drafting your trust is who will serve as the Successor Trustee. Now this great advice is seconded by Rick Friedman, senior vice president and financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management. 

Forbes recently had a nice article titled “How To Choose The Right Trustee For Your Estate,” in which the role of a trustee is explored.

A trustee is the individual or company that administers a trust for the benefit of named beneficiaries. Duties can range widely and may include paying bills and taxes, and managing property and investments. Most importantly, the article says a trustee “has a legal fiduciary duty to manage a trust on a beneficiary’s behalf,” by always acting in the beneficiary’s best interests, as outlined by the trust.

The trustee’s job isn’t easy nor quick. Overseeing a trust could mean years of active engagement with the estate’s beneficiaries. For this reason, the article emphasizes that it’s essential to think about the most appropriate trustee before making the appointment.

A trustee doesn’t need a lot of legal or financial knowledge, but needs to be someone you trust implicitly. In addition, close proximity to the beneficiaries is important so that duties can be performed quickly and without undue travel expense. Above all, it should be someone who has the energy and mental acuity to take on all responsibilities.

Managing a trust is a big responsibility and requires a candid conversation with the potential trustee. A trustee needs to know up front what is being asked of him or her. The article also emphasizes the importance of periodically re-evaluating your trustee choice as circumstances can change. Have you and this friend grown apart or now is your parent is too old to help? If yes, it’s time to consider a new trustee.

Another option is a trust company. A trust company will be unemotional and completely detached from the situation. “There are definitely fewer family feuds when trust companies are involved,” the article says. Trust companies can also bring expertise and experience that a non-professional trustee can rarely match. The potential downside to hiring a company is that trust companies charge a fee. This can vary, but is usually a percentage of the estate. A friend or family trustee will usually not charge for their services.

Finally, the article emphasizes the importance of having language in your will that allows you to assign new trustees if circumstances change. To do this you will need flexibility in your trust language.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.  However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project.  Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.

Reference: Forbes (May 19, 2015) “How To Choose The Right Trustee For Your Estate”

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

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.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

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.