Who Should I Name as Trustee of My Living Trust?
Living trusts are increasingly popular estate planning tools. When you create a trust, you are creating a fiduciary relationship where a trustee holds specific assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries of your trust. Serving as a trustee is a significant responsibility and is therefore an important decision when creating your trust. A Boca Raton living trust lawyer can help you decide who you should choose to serve as your trustee.
Understanding the Role of the Trustee
In order to decide who is the right person to serve as your trustee, it’s important to first understand what a trustee does. The trustee has a fiduciary obligation to the beneficiaries of the trust, which means that they have a legal obligation to act in their best interest with regard to any assets that are held by the trust. This may include the following duties:
- Managing and maintaining real property
- Managing investment accounts
- Paying taxes and making decisions concerning tax liabilities
- Distributing income as directed by the trust agreement
- Keeping records of transactions concerning trust assets
The trustee’s fiduciary duty exists regardless of the size of the estate, but larger or more complex estates will require more effort in performing their duties.
Naming Yourself as Trustee
It is quite common to name yourself as trustee. The primary reason for doing this is that it allows you to retain greater control over the assets of the trust during your lifetime, especially if you continue to use or enjoy the assets (e.g. you will continue to live in your home). Second, you already managed the assets of your estate prior to creating the trust – there is no reason why you cannot continue to do so.
The main drawback to naming yourself as the trustee is what happens when you die. For this reason, if you name yourself as trustee, you need to be sure that the trust agreement contains an appointment of a successor trustee in the event of your death.
Naming a Friend or Family Member as Trustee
Unlike naming a personal representative in a will, there are no legal requirements for someone to serve as your trustee. As a result, you could name a friend or family member as your trustee. However, you want to be sure that they are someone you trust to handle your financial affairs. Friends and family members are often named as successor trustees when people name themselves as trustees. That said, if you choose to name a friend or family member as a trustee, you should make sure that the trust agreement gives them the authority to hire professional assistance such as a lawyer or financial advisor to help with administering the trust. A Boca Raton living trust lawyer can help you choose the right person to serve as your trustee.
Naming a Corporate Trustee
Another option is to name a corporate entity such as a bank or trust company. These entities will be fully equipped to manage every aspect of your trust but will charge a fee for their services. Over time, these fees could deplete the assets of your trust.
Contact a Boca Raton Living Trust Lawyer to Discuss Your Options
Deciding who should be your trustee is an important decision. At Ellis Law Group, we help people create trusts that are uniquely suited to meet their needs. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a Boca Raton living trust lawyer to discuss your trust, call us at 561-910-7500 or complete our online contact form.