Choosing a Successor Trustee: Your First Thought May Not Be Your Best OptionSubmitted by HearthStone | Private Wealth Management on August 18th, 2015
Choosing a Successor Trustee:
Your First Thought May Not Be Your Best Option
What will happen to your estate once you are gone? This is a daunting question. Much depends on the estate planning you do today. This includes the people you choose to run your estate when you’re not around.
One of the most important decisions you will make regarding your personal estate plan is choosing your successor trustee. There are many considerations to make before designating a person for this critical role. A common misconception is that family members are your only option. They’re not. Often, they’re not your best option, either.
Administering an estate plan is like running a business. It’s complicated and requires knowledge, experience, energy, time, organization, judgment and dedication. It’s a job, not a privilege.
When considering a candidate, ask: “If this person was in the marketplace offering the services required for this job, would anyone else hire him?” If your answer is “no,” keep searching. If you can’t find anyone from within your friends and family, then you should consider hiring a professional trustee.
Find someone who’s trained, educated, experienced and licensed. That person may be a CPA, an attorney, an employee at a large trust department, or a professional fiduciary. In California, you should look for a Certified Licensed Professional Fiduciary (CLPF).
What are professional fiduciaries’ duties? They manage clients’ personal affairs relating to daily care, housing, medical needs, and sometimes personal finances. They can administer estate plans and much more.
You should consider seeking the services of a professional if you’re someone who:
• Doesn’t have friends and family with the appropriate skills or time availability
• Doesn’t have a friend or family member you trust
• Would like to avoid conflicts between family members
Speaking of money, a professional will be paid for services rendered. However, this price is often much less than the cost of potential family squabbles, conflicts, damaged relationships, and litigation.
Since you’ve already invested the time, trouble and expense to establish your estate plan, why skimp on one of its most important parts—choosing a successor trustee? If you love your family, treat this decision with the gravity it deserves. Remember, you’re not alone. Your estate planning attorney and other advisors will be happy to provide valuable guidance.
For more information about professional fiduciaries, visit the Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) website at www.pfac-pro.org