Creating a trust is a great way of managing your estate and making certain your heirs are protected. One of the most important steps in creating a trust is to select the trustee or trustees who will manage it. The trustee is in charge of managing the funds, making investments, paying any bills necessary, and filing tax returns. It’s an important job, so you want to make certain that the right person is in charge of your trust.
How Many Trustees Are Needed?
For most personal trusts, you only need to designate one trustee. Corporate trusts or large trusts with many assets may need several trustees, but you shouldn’t need to look beyond one person. For some trusts, including the commonly created revocable living trust, you will actually serve as trustee until your death. This gives you the authority to change the trust as you see fit. In this case, you will name a successor who will become the managing trustee when you die. In some cases, you may also be asked to name a successor to the original trustee just in case they were to become incapacitated.
There are some trusts such as a special needs trust or an irrevocable trust that do require you to name a trustee when the trust is created. Your attorney will be able to give you all of the particulars about each type of trust, including when you are required to name a trustee, when you meet to plan your estate.
There Are Minimal Legal Requirements
Legally, your trustee must be over the age of 18 and must be legally competent to manage their own affairs as well as the trust. The most important considerations, then, are more personal rather than legal. You want to select someone you can trust to carry out your wishes and use the trust in the best interests of its beneficiaries. Your trustee doesn’t have to have any expertise in the areas of finances or law—they can consult with accountants and lawyers as needed. In some cases, you may look for someone with some specialized knowledge. For example, the trustee of a special needs trust should understand the various programs that the beneficiary qualifies for and can benefit from.
You may also want to consider the age and health of the trustee. Selecting someone who is dealing with a major illness or who may be overwhelmed with their own affairs may not be able to take on the role.
Discuss Your Options with an Expert
If you want to create a trust and need assistance, the experts here at Michael F. Kanzer & Associates can help. Contact us today to request your free consultation.