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Selecting an individual to serve as a trustee is a challenging process, and the usual default is to a family member. But that’s not always the best solution. Here are some points to consider on the selection of a trustee.

One of the toughest decisions in estate planning centers on selecting a trustworthy family member to be the trustee. But sometimes the best person for the task is not a family member. And trust is not always the driving factor.

Often, no one person in the family possesses the skills and knowledge to serve as a trustee.

There are a number of things to consider when making this important decision. Here are a few good reasons why you might want to consider selecting a person who is not a member of the family to be a trustee, as covered in The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog post “Why It Is a Good Idea to Choose a Non Family Trustee.”:

  • Time – Does the family member have the time that is required to manage the trust? This may become burdensome for people who are busy with families, jobs and their own responsibilities.
  • Personal Liability – There is a downside to being a trustee. The family member is exposed to liability that may have a significant impact on their own financial well being.
  • Family Disputes – Sadly, it is not unusual for beneficiaries to have conflicts with the trustees.  Heirs may differ in how the assets are being distributed or invested and coming into conflict with a non-family member, especially a financial professional, may be less harmful to the family dynamic than fighting with a relative.

Selecting a trustee requires careful planning, insight into the process of being a trustee and sometimes, making a different decision than one would expect.

Contact an estate planning attorney for some ideas appropriate for your circumstances.

Reference: The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (June 10, 2015) “Why It Is A Good Idea To Choose A Non Family Trustee.”

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.