Should I choose a relative or a professional to serve as trustee?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2021 | Estate Planning And Administration |

Trusts are a popular estate planning vehicle for many in New York. They allow a person to pass their assets on to their heirs, with contingencies if they wish. In addition, trusts remain private and assets in a trust bypass probate — an otherwise costly, time-consuming public process. One thing a person executing a trust will need to do is to name a personal trustee to administer their estate after they pass. This can be a loved one or a professional, such as an attorney or a financial professional.

Naming a loved one as personal trustee

It may seem like naming a trusted loved one as trustee is the obvious thing to do. However, tread carefully if you choose this option. Selecting one relative over another can create animosity in the family. Moreover, a relative may find the estate administration process burdensome and confusing. If you are going to choose a loved one as trustee, discuss the situation with them first to ensure they are up to the duties of the role and make sure your other loved ones know of your selection, to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

What are the duties of a trustee?

Being named as a trustee comes with significant fiduciary responsibilities. Trustees must invest trust funds, pay bills, report taxes and fulfill the terms of the trust as they relate to the distribution of trust assets to the trust beneficiaries. This can be a lot for an inexperienced person to handle, especially considering that trustees are personally liable for mistakes made. For this reason, many choose to select a professional to serve as trustee, rather than a loved one.

Learn more about estate administration

Ultimately, this post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Only you can decide who is best able to serve as trustee to your trust. Our firm’s webpage on estate administration may be a good resource for those who want to learn more about this topic.