How to select the ideal trustee

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2021 | Estate Planning

If you found it challenging to select an executor to administer your estate, then you may find it equally challenging to identify someone as a trustee to manage any trust you set up.

There are, however, specific attributes that you should look for in any prospective candidate for your trustee.

Signs that someone will be a good trustee

Essential character traits that you’ll want a trustee to have are trustworthiness and honesty. They’ll be responsible for some of your most valuable assets and using their discretion to decide when to distribute them to your beneficiaries, so they’ll need to be someone you feel can exercise integrity when doing this. 

Anyone that you appoint to this role should also be financially prudent. An executor’s fiduciary duty is to make choices that not only honor your wishes but also preserve the value of the assets contained in the trust. The person you select should have the basic know-how to safeguard assets, so they don’t unnecessarily depreciate in value and even potentially grow their worth. 

Examples of places to find trustees

You may find that your most analytical and investment-savvy friends or acquaintances are ideal for this role. You may also choose to work with someone with a more arms-length professional relationship with an attorney, banker, financial planner, or accountant to manage your trust. Some even appoint corporate entities to do so.

Many legal analysts recommend steering clear of appointing family members to this role due to in-fighting that often leads to costly litigation. It’s often better to appoint someone who’s younger and in optimal health as a trustee to avoid frequent changes in the role.

Some trust owners don’t appoint just one trustee to manage their trust, but instead, choose multiple trustees to share in the decision-making process. The appointment of various trustees may reduce the chances of a gap in the management of the trust should a removal or death occur. 

Setting up a trust and selecting a trustee

There are many different trusts to choose from here in California. An attorney in San Jose can help you understand the differences between the various options that exist and decide whether a trustee you have in mind is suitable for the role.