Deciding on a trustee for your trust is a critical decision. This individual or entity will bear the substantial responsibility of managing your assets and ensuring that your wishes are executed as intended. It’s not just about finding someone with the appropriate skills, but also someone who resonates with your values and comprehends your future aspirations. The trustee you select is instrumental in upholding the integrity of your trust, making vital decisions that could affect the lives of your beneficiaries for many years ahead.

5 Key Factors to Consider when choosing a Trustee

Selecting your trustee is a crucial decision since they will be responsible for managing your trust assets. Here are five important factors to think about: 

Knowledge and Experience

The trustee role requires a good understanding of finance. Does the person you’re considering have the necessary background and expertise to handle financial matters effectively? Are they capable of dealing with asset management, tax laws, and estate planning?

Time Commitment

Running a trust is more than a part-time job. It demands constant attention and effort. Is your potential trustee able to devote sufficient time to manage the trust properly?

Understanding Your Family

Every family is different, and so are their needs. If your trustee comprehends your family dynamics, it can ease the trust’s management. Can they handle any possible family disagreements diplomatically and fairly?


A trustee should be able to make fair decisions in tough situations. Can the person you’re considering stay objective and act in the best interests of all beneficiaries?

Financial Security

It’s important that your trustee is financially stable. You wouldn’t want your trust assets to be a temptation for someone struggling with financial problems.”

Who Qualifies to Be a Trustee?

In general, any mentally competent adult with no criminal record can serve as a trustee. This could be a family member, a trusted friend, a trust lawyer, or a financial advisor. Alternatively, some opt for corporate trustees such as bank trust departments or trust companies offering professional trustee services.

Agreeing to the Trustee Role

Giving consent is a must. Being a trustee involves significant responsibilities and potential risks. It’s vital to make sure the chosen person or organization is prepared and able to take on this role. It’s a decision that should not be taken lightly, considering the significant impact it can have on the trust’s beneficiaries.”

Key Responsibilities of a Trustee

The main responsibility of a trustee is to take care of the trust’s property as per the trust’s terms, ensuring it benefits the beneficiaries. Their duties cover a wide array of tasks, including:

investing assets for co-trustee

  • investment returns,
  • distributing to beneficiaries,
  • maintaining precise records,
  • preparing and filing tax returns,
  • and keeping beneficiaries informed about trust administration.

When Should You Think About Hiring a Professional or Corporate Trustee?

If your trust is large, complex, or is meant to last for several generations, you might want to think about hiring a professional trustee, such as a trust attorney, or a corporate trustee. These professionals offer expertise, fairness, and consistency that individual trustees may not have. Plus, they’re governed by federal laws and undergo regular audits, providing an additional safeguard for your trust assets.

What are the Fees for a Professional Trustee?

A professional or corporate trustee will typically charge for their services, which can include managing and investing trust assets, handling administrative duties, making distributions to beneficiaries, and ensuring compliance with tax and legal requirements. These fees often vary based on the complexity of the trust and the level of service required, but they are generally considered a worthwhile investment due to the expertise and peace of mind these professionals bring.

Duties of a Successor Trustee

If you’ve established a revocable living trust, chances are you’re the trustee in charge of overseeing your financial affairs. But there will be a time when, due to health issues or after you’ve passed away, someone else will need to step in and take over this role for you.

A successor trustee steps in when the original trustee can no longer serve due to death, incapacity, resignation, or removal. The successor trustee takes on the same responsibilities and duties as the original trustee, ensuring that the administering of the trust continues without interruption. Their role is crucial in maintaining the stability and integrity of the trust, safeguarding the interests of the beneficiaries.

How to choose a Successor Trustee

Choosing a successor trustee requires similar consideration as the initial trustee selection, but you must also assess their ability to smoothly continue the work of the original trustee, and their ability to rapidly adapt and manage any unexpected situations that may arise during the transition, ensuring the trust’s operations remain uninterrupted and effective.  

Understanding the Difference Between a Trustee and a Successor Trustee

The key difference between a trustee and a successor trustee is the timing of their service. A trustee is involved from the start of the trust, whereas a successor trustee only steps in under specific circumstances. However, their duties are essentially identical.

Choosing the right Trustee

Selecting a trustee is a pivotal choice that demands thoughtful consideration. It’s about identifying someone you trust implicitly, who will respect your wishes and make decisions that benefit your beneficiaries. To optimize tax benefits and secure long-term peace of mind, consider establishing a trust with the help of an established estate planning attorney. Hermance Law is at your service, providing expert guidance for all your trust and estate planning needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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