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How to Choose a Trustee – Part Two

INTRO: In Part One of this series, we learned how establishing a Revocable Living Trust for yourself and your family is worthwhile for many reasons. Today we discover why a quick, “painless” decision made by nominating one’s spouse, oldest child, or all children as Co-Trustees can lead to disaster.

Much too frequently, a quick, “painless” decision is made by nominating one’s spouse, oldest child, or all children as Co-Trustees. Such haste may lead to problems, if not disaster. Choosing Co-Trustees, even when they consist of all of your children, is often problematic because of logistics and/or the required compatibility and cooperation involved in making Trust decisions (e.g., how, when or whether to sell or divide certain cherished assets). Family relationships can be devastated as a result of a Settlor not taking ample care in deciding who is truly best suited to be Successor Trustee.

Interestingly, the decision about who is to serve as Successor Trustee after the first spouse dies can have a more dramatic impact than who will serve when the surviving spouse dies. This is particularly so with blended families and/or with couples in which one or both spouses have significant separate property holdings. But issues can arise even for spouses whose entire estate consists of community property, such as those triggered by the remarriage of the surviving spouse.

Sometimes, neither relatives nor friends are the best candidates. Many financial institutions have reputable trust departments, with capable, seasoned trust officers who can potentially carry out a Settlor’s wishes most objectively, safely and effectively. Another alternative is to choose an experienced, “private fiduciary” – someone who is properly licensed and bonded, whose job entails serving as Successor Trustee for many different family trusts.

In this, as in many instances, your trusted professional advisor, such as your estate planning attorney, CPA and/or investment manager, can serve you best – not just by getting to an answer, but by knowing what questions to ask.

This article is intended to provide information of a general nature, and should not be relied upon as legal, tax, financial and/or business advice. Readers should obtain and rely upon specific advice only from their own qualified professional advisors. This communication is not intended or written to be used, for the purpose of: i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; or ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein.

TRUSTEE ADMINISTRATION: Need to find an experienced estate & trust administrator in Walnut Creek CA? Contact Robert Silverman at 925-705-4474 for legal advice on a Revocable Living Trust, “Summary” Estate Administration, Trust/Estate Beneficiary Representation and Will & Trust Disputes.

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