One of the most important decisions for one to consider when establishing a living trust is the choice of a trustee. A trustee has authority as well as responsibility in regards to the assets in a trust. Essentially, a trustee is the manager of the living trust.
Although a great number of people will act as their own trustee until their incapacity or death, some determine that they need management of their trust because they are too busy or too inexperienced.
At the time of the trustor’s death, the trustee acts as an executor would, gathering assets, paying valid debts, claims and taxes, and distributing assets as directed in the living trust.
Will the Trustee Please Stand?
The trustee could be a spouse, relative, family friend, business associate or a professional fiduciary. The professional fiduciary may be a bank or trust company. You may also provide for a successor trustee as well as co-trustees.
Living trusts are not under court supervision so a trustee who does not act in the trustor’s best interests may be able to take advantage of the situation. It is important to discuss all the options and realities with your estate planning attorney.