Many families dealing with their estate planning choose to go with a trust, rather than a will – or a combination of the two. If you are thinking about putting together a trust, you will need to appoint a trustee to ensure the terms of the trust are carried out according to your wishes. At Ball & Morse, PLLC, we have helped numerous Oklahoma City clients with their trust planning needs, and we understand the many different aspects that go into such a document.
Before designating a trustee, you will need to understand the responsibilities of this position. According to The Wall Street Journal, a trustee should consider the needs of your beneficiaries and interpret the terms of your trust accordingly. If you are like many other families, your first inclination may be to appoint a close family member or friend as your trustee. This is common and entirely appropriate; however, there may be some instances in which a professionally-trained trustee will better serve your interests.
For example, a professional trustee is more likely to be impartial and not easily swayed by emotions or family drama. He or she will understand the complexities of estate taxes and multiple-generation trusts. On the other hand, in some cases professional trustees may be too impartial and will not be able to focus on your family’s needs as much as you would have liked when planning your trust.
If you designate someone close to you as a trustee, you can have the peace of mind knowing that this friend or family member personally knows the beneficiaries. He or she may better able to make decisions in their best interests that serve the terms of the trust. Nonprofessional trustees, however, may have difficulty interpreting some of the more complex laws and terms surrounding these documents.
One compromise would be to designate a main trustee and a co-trustee to deal with the impartial and personal aspects of your trust separately. This option can ensure that your wishes are more thoroughly considered and properly carried out.