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5 ways to choose the right trustee

Choosing a trustee is one of the biggest estate planning decisions you'll make, as this person will take on a variety of duties upon your death or if you're incapacitated for any reason.

While some people have a clear idea of whom to name as their trustee, others are unsure of where to begin their search. Furthermore, there may come a point when you get the feeling that your trustee is up to no good, thus causing you to make a change.

There are several details you can focus on to help you choose the right trustee:

  • Expertise: You don't have to choose a trustee with experience or knowledge of estate planning, but it never hurts. If this isn't possible, find someone with good business sense and the ability to make informed decisions.
  • Health matters: It's critical to choose a trustee who will be around at the time of your death. This means you probably don't want to name someone who is older than you or not in good health.
  • Ask for permission: Don't choose a trustee until you first speak to the person about the responsibility and their willingness to help. No one can be forced to act as trustee, so if you choose someone who turns down the job, the legal system will get involved by naming a replacement.
  • Name more than one trustee: Since a trust can last for many years, it never hurts to name a backup. This person will step in to act as trustee should your first choice be unable to do so for any reason, such as an illness.
  • Review your decision regularly: Don't choose a trustee and assume that you can leave well enough alone until your passing. Check back often to ensure that the decision you originally made still makes sense.

When you choose the right trustee, you'll have confidence that the trust administration process will go smoothly.

Conversely, if you make the wrong decision for any reason, you could get the feeling that a change is necessary. If you need to make a change for any reason, perhaps as the result of fiduciary abuse, learn more about the process you can follow to make this happen.

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