A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which one party (the trustor) gives another party (the trustee) the right to hold title to assets or property for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). When creating a trust as part of your estate plan, it’s imperative that you choose a trustee that will carry out your wishes efficiently and honestly. Below are some tips on how to pick the right trustee.
The Trustee’s Duties
A trustee has several duties, including:
- Guaranteeing the tax returns for the trust are completed and filed on time
- Precisely accounting for investments or distributions
- Investing the trust’s assets fairly, wisely, and in a way that benefits recipients
In addition, while performing these duties, a trustee must avoid conflicts of interest. This requires someone with specific qualities.
Qualities of an Effective Trustee
Some of the traits that your trustee should possess include:
- A strong understanding of how tax and trust laws work
- Experience in managing investments
- Bookkeeping abilities
- Reliability and integrity
- The ability to work fairly with the beneficiaries of the trust
- The ability to perform his or her duties over a long period of time
Additional Things to Consider
- Family members as trustees – Listing a member of the family or a friend as your trustee is often tempting, as this seems like a logical way to lessen or avert the costs associated with choosing a professional to do the job. However, it can be difficult to find a family member who is impartial and will carry out his or her duties objectively. Therefore, you should consider naming an impartial, trustworthy individual who isn’t a family member as your trustee.
- Payment for trustees – Whoever takes on the role of trustee will have to invest a lot of energy, time, and effort into fulfilling his or her duties. Therefore, even if the trust documents don’t specify a trustee payment amount, most states allow you to pay the trustee a reasonable fee. In order to determine what is reasonable, you should make sure that you understand the full scope of services that he or she will be required to provide in the future.
Begin the Estate Planning Process Today
In order to begin the estate planning process, you need an experienced Florida and New York estate planning attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, we provide comprehensive estate planning services to clients who reside in New York, to those who reside in Florida, and to snowbirds who split time between both states. Attorney Angela Siegel is licensed to practice law in both New York and Florida, and she regularly assists residents of both states with their estate planning needs.
Whether you live in Florida or New York, Angela Siegel is eager to help you begin the estate planning process. If you’re ready to get started, please contact us today for a consultation.