Choosing a Trustee is a very important decision. A trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries. This means that the trustee will be held to a very high standard and must care for trust assets with greater care than that required of his or her own assets. Thus, honesty, good judgment, and organization are the most important qualities you should look for in a trustee.
A trustee’s duties may be complicated and continue for the duration of the trust. These duties include collecting and taking inventory of the estate’s assets, investing funds, determining what distributions are allowed and making such distributions to beneficiaries, keeping an accounting of all funds, filing tax returns, and delegating duties beyond their expertise.
Family members, friends, professional fiduciaries, and corporate trustees may all serve as trustee. The benefit of choosing friends and family members is that they typically do not charge or charge much less and have a better understanding of your intentions. However, family and friends may lack expertise and there is always potential for family conflicts. Alternatively, professional fiduciaries and corporate trustees will have more experience, but they will charge higher fees and may be strangers to the beneficiaries. Co-trustees may also be appointed, but can result in greater conflict and potential litigation.
Consider the complexity of your trust and any potential family conflicts when choosing a Trustee. Also, be sure that the person you choose is aware and willing to act as Trustee.
Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Diego Trust attorney.