How to Choose a Trustee for Your Living Trust

Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a NJ Trust Law Attorney

Your living trust is much more than just a will or a trust document that says which heirs get what percentage or which specific items that you leave behind should you die. A living trust details how and when heirs are to receive their inheritance, who is to take over any businesses in question, and many crucial issues of your estate. A living trust is very specific in how an estate is to be dealt with. Therefore, the choice of a trustee for your living will is a very important decision in your estate planning process.

Living Trusts: Choosing a Trusted Friend
When choosing a person to be the trustee of your living will, you need to answer on question:

  • Who could step into my place and confidently act as I would in carrying out my wishes?  

It is vitally important to choose someone that you have full faith and confidence in. You should feel at ease that he or she would carry out your requests as they are written in your estate planning documents. Some typical choices include a:

  • Close family friend 
  • Close family member 
  • Child 
  • Professional trustee

While you may feel completely secure in trusting this huge responsibility for carrying out your wishes to a family member, there are several situations when that is not wise or possible. In that case, your estate planning wishes can be addressed by a trusted outsider.

Living Trusts: Choosing an Outside Trustee
If you do not have a close friend or relative that you feel comfortable leaving this job to, or if by selecting one of the heirs will cause conflict, then there are other options. You can hire an outside trustee like:

  • Your bank 
  • A trust company 
  • Your lawyer 
  • A financial advisor

These professionals are well versed in what it requires to be a trustee and can often work more expediently and effectively, which saves the heirs money and time. While there are many benefits to not having a family member involved as the trustee of your living trust; there are also some drawbacks to using a bank or trust company as your trustee.

  • Higher fees 
  • Minimal estate value of around $700,000

No matter whom you choose, you want to be sure that you have full confidence in them to do exactly as you want, no matter what other people say. There may be heirs who are unhappy with the terms and conditions of the living trust and will try to sway your representative to do as they want. Knowing that you have a strong, trustworthy individual protecting your wishes will provide peace of mind.

If you have any questions, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. at 732-863-9900, or fniemann@hnlawfirm.com/.  He is happy to answer your inquiries.

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