Creating a comprehensive estate plan in New York is not just about making decisions that only you can make, it’s also about choosing people who will serve important roles in your life and in the management of your estate.
When, for example, you choose to create a living trust, you will have to select a trustee who will manage the trust property. Selecting a trustee is not always an easy process, and there are several considerations you will have to make before identifying the ideal candidate. Selecting the right trustee is something you should do only after consulting with your estate planning attorney, but here are some questions you will want to ask yourself.
What kind of duties will the trustee have?
When you create a last will and testament you will have to choose an executor who will manage your estate after you die. Though executors have to deal with probate, their duties typically won’t last more than a few months or so because the estate settlement process is something that will be over relatively quickly.
When you select a trustee, on the other hand, that person’s duties can last for years, decades, or even generations.
The kind of trust you create will largely dictate what the trustee’s duties will be. For example, if you create a revocable living trust and choose to name a trustee other than yourself, that trustee will be responsible for managing your property while you are alive and distributing it to beneficiaries after you pass. In that situation, the trustee could have minor duties depending on how much property you place in the trust.
In other situations, you might create a testamentary trust that names someone to act as trustee over property you intend to give to your minor children. Depending on the terms of the trust and when you die, that trustee could have to spend a lot more time and manage a lot more responsibilities than they would managing a living trust.
What is the trustee capable of?
Not everyone is right for every job, and the same is true of trustees. Some trusts require people with the ability to follow simple directions, while other trusts are far more complicated.
If, for example, you create an irrevocable trust to which you transfer significant assets, the trustee will have to manage that property carefully. If the trustee is not capable of managing significant financial investments or does not have adequate advisers, naming that person as trustee could be a big mistake.
What is the cost?
With some living trusts you don’t need to worry about paying the trustee, while with others you will definitely want to be prepared to pay a substantial sum in management fees. Trusts with complicated holdings, or those that could last for years, typically require you to pay a trustee, and often a professional one.