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Whom to Trust? Factors in Choosing a Trustee for Your Trust

November 14, 2011

Filed under: Estate Planning — Christopher J. Berry @ 8:05 pm

I was reading the latest Journal of Financial Service Professionals and I came across a great article listing six non-tax related issues to consider when selecting a trustee.  When it comes to comprehensive estate planning, revocable living trusts are an important piece to the estate planning puzzle.  Often times, our clients struggle with the idea of who to appoint to serve the important role of trustee.  To assist our clients, here are three things to consider when selecting trustees for your Michigan revocable living trust.

  1. Legal Capacity- for a trustee to serve, they must have legal capacity.  That means they must be at least 18 of age, so you can’t name your 16 year old son…not that you’d want to.  Also you must consider the age of the person you are appointing, for example, if you appoint an older, senior individual will they be around to serve when the successor trustee provisions come into effect?
  2. Personal Attributes of the Trustee- This is one of the most important factors for deciding who will serve the role of trustee.  Serving as a trustee is an honor, large responsibility, and not a game for beginners to play.  A trustee must exhibit sound judgment, impartiality, financial ability, responsibility, integrity, and honesty.  By selecting a trustee with the right attributes, you are going a long way in ensuring a smooth administration.
  3. Beneficiaries having Conflicting Interests- Oftentimes a trustee also serves the role of one of the beneficiaries.  Is this putting the trustee in a difficult position with other siblings?

I hope you found this information beneficial.  Those three out of the six factors to consider were the ones that I, as a Michigan estate planning attorney, run into on a daily basis.


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