It’s About Relationships

Choosing a family member as a trustee has pros and cons

| Nov 5, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Setting up a trust can better ensure the following of your wishes when it comes time to settle your final affairs. Of course, at this time, you will no longer be around to administer the trust yourself, so it is important that you have a successor trustee appointed to handle this important matter. Trust administration can sometimes involve more than just distributing assets, so it is wise to consider someone who has the time and know-how.

Often, a family member comes to mind first when individuals think of who to name as a successor trustee. This may not necessarily be a bad idea, but it is important to remember that appointing a loved one can come with its pros and cons.

Is a family member your best option?

Your trust undoubtedly holds a great deal of importance to you, and you do not want your affairs to go sideways after your passing simply because the designated trustee could not handle his or her responsibilities appropriately. Some pros and cons to consider before naming a family member include the following:

  • Pro: A family member may have more intimate knowledge of your wishes and the needs of your beneficiaries, which could allow him or her to act in a more comprehensive capacity when it comes to administration.
  • Pro: A family member may not choose to collect an administrative fee for conducting the necessary duties and instead allow those funds to go toward the beneficiaries’ bequests.
  • Con: Choosing one family member over others could increase the chances of sibling rivalry or other family conflict.
  • Con: A family member who does not have experience in handling trust administration duties may make costly mistakes.

Depending on the skills and knowledge of your loved ones and your family dynamic as a whole, you may not have to worry about these negative points, or you could have more negative points to consider.

What are your other options?

If you do not wish to choose a family member, you could choose a close friend or even a professional trustee service. In any case, your trustee should have the following qualities:

  • Your trustee can assess and analyze your assets and investments in a knowledgeable way.
  • Your trustee can keep his or her personal feelings out of the administration process.
  • Your trustee has the time available to manage the trust’s affairs as needed.
  • Your trustee is responsible and trustworthy.
  • Your trustee has an impartial attitude and will not favor any beneficiary over the others.

Your trustee will have a lot to handle, so it is wise to discuss your intentions with your potential trustee candidate if you do want a friend or family member to take on this role. Some individuals may decline the responsibility, but that does not mean you are out of options. Discussing trustee responsibilities and appointments with knowledgeable California estate planning attorneys may help you make an informed decision.