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Let fairness, competency and familiarity guide the process

When working with clients to set up their estate plan, one of the most important, and sometimes challenging question we ask is “Who do you want to be your trustee?”  The top answer is “Hmmm.  That’s a good question.  We haven’t thought about that.”

If you are like most of the clients we talk to about their estate planning for the first time, you may not have thought about who you would want to serve as trustee of your trust.  It’s sometimes easier to figure out how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries, but who you leave the responsibility of managing your estate and carrying out your wishes can be tough.

There is no universal right answer as to who should serve as a trustee of your trust.  My goal here is to provide you with context, address frequently asked questions, and provide a framework of questions you may want to consider in making decisions about trustees.

What is the Role of Trustee?

First, let’s look at the role of a trustee.

The trustee of a trust is typically twofold:  1)  the trustee is first responsible for administering your estate, generally meaning that they carry out your wishes and divide the estate between your beneficiaries as designated in your trust; and 2) if you wish to have assets managed on an ongoing basis through what is referred to as a test