Why choosing the right trustee matters

One of the most important steps in creating a trust is choosing who will act as the trustee. The person who is creating the trust may want to choose a close friend or family member to serve in that role. However, it is also possible to have a financial adviser or another professional act in such a capacity. Some individuals may find it appropriate to have both a family member and a professional work together to administer a trust.

The professional would help to ensure that the trust meets the long-term goals that it was designed to fulfill. He or she would also be able to distribute money or make other decisions strictly based on the terms of the document itself. When appropriate, these decisions would be made with input from the friend or family member who has a more intimate understanding of what the trust is supposed to accomplish.

Using a professional instead of a close friend may be ideal if that person doesn't have money management skills. It can also help to guard against a family member or friend experiencing a mental decline later in life. This may make an individual especially vulnerable to undue influence even if he or she would otherwise be able to administer the trust properly.

An attorney may be able to discuss the benefits of a trust or other estate planning documents with an individual. In some cases, it may be worthwhile to add new documents or edit those already in existence after an estate plan is first created. This may be necessary if an individual has a child, gets divorced or experiences some other drastic life event. Ideally, an estate plan will be reviewed on an annual basis even if there is no specific reason to do so.

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