The Livens Law Firm

Choosing a trustee important part of estate planning

A living trust, or revocable trust, typically names the person who established it as the trustee. Should one spouse pass away, the surviving spouse would then become the sole trustee, in most cases. Since living trusts are often a component of the estate planning process for many Texas residents, it would be worthwhile to identify a successor trustee for when the surviving spouse also passes away. Financial experts say that children, other family members, friends or financial institutions are commonly named as successor trustees.

The oldest child in a family is often named as a successor trustee. However, other families decide to name all their children as co-trustees. Each person should consider the potential burden of administrating someone's estate as the determination is made. If a friend is selected as a successor trustee, analysts suggest that some amount of compensation be paid to them. Managing an estate could take a lot of time, depending on the complexity of the estate.

Another option is to name a professional fiduciary to act as trustee. This impartial person is already trained to handle estates and would act on behalf of the trust's beneficiaries. Finally, a bank might be named as a trustee if potential conflicts are anticipated or several of the beneficiaries reside out-of-state. It would be wise to name a bank as a contingency plan in the event someone named as trustee refuses or is unable to serve. Having a bank already identified can help prevent the need for the court to name a trustee.

Whatever decisions are made should be discussed with family members and affected parties to avoid confusion or conflict later. A Texas estate planning attorney can work with clients to develop a plan that is best tailored to their needs. An experienced lawyer will help put plans in place to see that a person's estate is handled according to his or her wishes.

Source: pe.com, "Women on Money and Mindset: Estate planning: choosing a trustee", Tami Sipos, Sept. 2, 2017

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