By Matthew A. Ferri, Esq. Estate planning is more than just determining how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. It’s also about ensuring that your values, goals, and legacy continue to thrive in the hands of the right successors. Selecting the right individuals to manage and inherit your estate is a critical aspect of the estate planning process. This week for Estate Planning Awareness Week, we will look at some of the various roles involved in an estate plan.
One vital decision in your estate plan is choosing the right successor trustee. This individual or entity will be responsible for managing your trust for your benefit if you become disabled, as well as administering your trust and ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Selecting the right successor trustee is a decision that requires careful thought and consideration. You should name someone you trust and are familiar with. A strong bond can be invaluable when managing your affairs. Personal insight can help ensure your trust is managed in a way that aligns with your objectives and values. In some cases, conflicts may arise among beneficiaries or with third parties. Your successor trustee should be able to handle and resolve these conflicts impartially and professionally. Their ability to act in the best interests of all beneficiaries is crucial.
Administering a trust often involves making financial decisions, managing investments, and handling tax matters. Your successor trustee should have a good understanding of financial matters or be willing to seek expert advice when necessary. They should be able to preserve and potentially grow the trust’s assets to benefit the beneficiaries.
Consider the availability and responsiveness of your potential successor trustee. Ideally, they should be accessible and able to act promptly when needed. This is especially important if the trust holds assets that require ongoing management or if there are time-sensitive matters to address.
Professional trustees and trust companies are viable options, especially if there are concerns about the availability or competence of individual trustees. These entities are well-versed in trust administration and often have experienced teams to handle various aspects of the role. You will need to balance the benefits of a professional trustee with the cost. Family and friends often act as successor trustees for little or no compensation. Whereas professional trustees can be expensive. Prices vary, so it is important to do your research before selecting a specific professional trustee.
It’s also wise to create a succession plan for your successor trustee. What happens if your initial choice becomes unable or unwilling to serve as trustee? Naming alternates or a procedure for selecting a new trustee can help ensure continuity.
Choosing the right successor trustee is a critical component of your estate planning strategy. In many cases, people choose a family member, close friend, or a professional fiduciary to serve as a trustee. It’s essential to discuss your choice with the prospective trustee to ensure they are willing to take on the responsibilities and understand your expectations.
Naming a successor trustee requires thoughtful evaluation of individuals or entities who can effectively manage your trust, act in accordance with your wishes, and safeguard your financial legacy. Trustworthiness, financial competence, availability, and familiarity with your wishes are some of the key factors to consider. Be sure to consult with legal and financial professionals to help guide you in this important decision. Contact us for a complimentary consultation, 248-409-0256, for more information on naming successor trustees so you can have peace of mind that your estate will be handled in a way that aligns with your vision.