When people in Florida create an estate plan, they often include one or more trusts as a part of that plan, and naturally have questions about how they choose a trustee for those trusts. Choosing a trustee, as with any part of the estate planning process, is something that takes time and consideration to do properly. While there is no single answer to how best to choose a trustee, and who the trustee of your trusts should be, there are some general principles you should keep in mind when making your selection. Today we are going to talk about how best to choose a trustee.
How do I choose a trustee? Consider the nature of your trust.
Not all trusts are equal, and some trusts will require different actions on the trustee’s part than others. For example, one of the most commonly created trusts in Florida is the revocable living trust. These trusts are designed to allow your estate to avoid probate, as well as provide additional benefits to you and your estate plan. Because a revocable living trust mostly owns the property that you owned in your name, most people choose themselves as the trustee when they create their living trust.
On the other hand, should you make a trust that protects the inheritances you want to leave your grandchildren, you will need to select a trustee who will be able to manage trust property after you pass away. Needless to say, you won’t be there to do this, so you will need to choose someone you trust.
How do I choose a trustee? Look for necessary traits.
The jobs the trustee has to do can vary substantially depending on the kind of trust, and the kind of trust property, involved. But regardless of the specifics, trustees should have the same general traits no matter what the trust will require of them.
First and foremost, a trustee needs to be someone who is responsible. The trustee has to perform specific tasks, do so on time, and do so in a manner that protects the interests of the trust beneficiaries. Trustees have a heightened legal responsibility in this manner, and cannot simply act in any way they choose. A trustee has to be responsible enough to act in accordance with the trust provisions.
Second, there may also be practical concerns involved. For example, if you are going to ask a trustee to manage a specific piece of real estate, that trustee should probably be located close enough to the real estate location so that he or she can be there on a regular basis. Similarly, if the trustee needs to be close to beneficiaries, such as located near young grandchildren to provide them with trust property when needed, considering where the trustee is located is essential.
Beyond that, more complicated trusts might require the assistance of a professional or organizational trustee. However, this isn’t always necessary, so you should talk to your attorney for advice about the kind of trustee that might best suit your needs.