July 11, 2012
If you’ve decided to create a trust, one of the first things that your Sacramento wills and trusts lawyer will help you do is to determine who would be the best choice as trustee. There are different kinds of trustees, and between you and your wills and trusts lawyer, you can determine if one type or the other (or both) is preferable.
An individual trustee is someone that you know personally and who knows you. It is important to choose someone whom you absolutely trust, as he or she will have considerable power over the trust. You want to choose someone who you believe will act in your best interests and will adhere to your wishes. There is also considerable responsibility involved, and in some cases, it makes sense to choose someone who has expertise in finance or other types of management. At a minimum you want to choose someone who handles their own finances well and is well organized. For these reasons, it is wise to discuss your wishes with the potential trustee to ensure that he or she is willing and able to take on the role when the time comes.
Professional trustees are sometimes preferred because they are better able to keep personal feelings out of the proceedings. A professional trustee is often an attorney, a bank, or even a trust company. You are able to choose someone who has expertise in the exact areas that are needed to effectively manage your particular trust. Of course, there is likely less (if any) personal connection, and you may be more interested in choosing someone with whom you have a prior relationship and who you feel understands you well enough to represent your desires. Still, a professional trustee can provide an unbiased view and is less likely to be swayed by pressure or the undue distress of grief that can cause loved ones to act in a less-than-exemplary manner at this difficult time.
One way that professional trustees tend to better protect the trust is to hire the same wills and trusts law firm that represented the decedent in the first place. This can avoid problems that might arise if a family member was a trustee and chose to use his or her own attorney. This option is open to individual trustees, too, however; so it’s a great suggestion to make in order to try to keep all of your beneficiaries’ best interests in mind.
If you do choose to work with a professional trustee, your Sacramento wills and trusts lawyer can offer recommendations and ideas for those they have worked with in the past. If you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment to talk about your estate planning needs, give our Fair Oaks law firm a call at (916) 241-9661.