In New York, many people have the option of choosing powerful financial services or notable attorneys to act as trustee. In the end, your choice of trustee will end up being based on a wide variety of factors. Still, there are several important considerations that you should keep in mind during the decision-making process to ensure that your living trust has the trustee who’s right for the job. Let our Ossining living trust attorneys provide the advice you need to make the right decision.
Consider the availability and fitness of the trustee
There are several basic criteria that you should always consider when you’re selecting a trustee, but none are more important than choosing someone who will actually be available to do the job. And that doesn’t just mean that they’re willing to accept the role and devote enough of their time to get the job done. Your trustee also needs to be fit enough to handle the role. That might mean, of course, that some of the most qualified candidates in your circle of friends and family might not be the best fit for the job.
For example, you may have a loved one with legal and financial expertise who would be more than happy to accept the trustee position. If, however, that person suffers from a serious medical condition, then he or she may not be fit enough to be a reliable choice. Granted, this is usually only a major concern in cases where that trustee candidate is in seriously bad health, but it is still a factor that should be weighed before you make any final decision.
It is wise to have more than one successor trustee
Because life is uncertain, you should be prepared to name successor trustees who can step into the role if something happens to your first choice. That can help to ensure that there is some type of continuity plan in place to protect the trust and beneficiary interests. You can even name a corporate successor trustee as your final option, granting trustee powers to a company or attorney when other trustees can no longer serve. Alternatively, you can include a provision in your trust terms that authorizes the successor trustee or your trust beneficiaries to choose an outside trustee if one is needed.
Is professional expertise necessary?
Some people argue that the trustee you select should have a background in law or finance or some other form of applicable expertise, but that’s not always the case. The reality is that the most important qualification that any responsible trustee can have is trustworthiness and devotion to doing the job properly. If you don’t select someone with professional expertise, however, you should take the precaution of ensuring that your trustee will have access to tax specialists, accountants, and legal counsel when necessary. If you are not sure who you might need, speak to our Ossining living trust attorneys.
There are some benefits of using a professional
Professional trustees can offer many benefits, of course. Whether you choose a corporate trustee or a law firm to handle your trust, you can enjoy the advantages of their experience and expertise. You’ll also have greater assurance that the trustee will be available to do the job on a long-term basis. In the end, though, the decision to rely on professionals will be dependent on a wide variety of factors. When there are no estate taxes or other complicated concerns to worry about, that level of professional trusteeship may not be needed.
Choose someone with responsibility and common sense
When choosing a trustee, you should always ask yourself one question: how responsible is this person? A responsible trustee will be diligent in all trust dealings and will work to exercise sound judgment in every decision that is made. That person will also have the self-awareness needed to recognize when he or she requires assistance to properly manage the affairs of the trust. That common-sense ability to know when you need help is something that every good trustee should possess in abundance.
That usually means that you’ll want to appoint someone who has a conservative approach to dealing with financial concerns. Obviously, any candidate who has trouble managing his or her own money and life probably shouldn’t be considered for the job. Remember, a trustee’s first job is to protect the interests of every trust beneficiary.
Attend a free seminar today! If you have questions regarding living trusts or any other estate planning matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Mary A. Miller, P.C. for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (914) 939-6565. We are here to help!