Selecting a Trustee

So you’ve decided it’s time to do some estate planning and you’ve talked with you estate planning attorney. And the lawyer asks who you want to serve as trustee. A friend or family member? Your bank or a trust company? Here’s a helpful article on some non-legal issues to think about when selecting a trustee.

The lawyer walks you through some of the pros and cons of each option – a friend or family member probably won’t expect to be paid for their service, but they may not know anything about investments or administering the trust for you and your family, so they could jeopardize your financial legacy to your descendants. A bank or trust company will usually serve for a fee of 1%/year of assets under management and they have professional investment and advising services included (so you’ll be getting a good return on investment and monthly or quarterly financial statements), but they might not want real estate or closely held (and non-diversified) business interests or other assets in the trust. And banks and trust companies often change through mergers and other business deals over the years, not to mention the internal turn over of trust officers and employees that you actually work with.

Even if you don’t set up a trust, the lawyer will ask a similar question about your will (who’s your executor?), your living will and your financial and medical powers of attorney (who’s your agent/attorney in fact?). Who’s going to be making decisions on your behalf? Who do you trust to handle your last affairs and settle your estate? The law doesn’t provide many answers, but a good estate planning lawyer can walk you through your options, and help you select the person or institution best suited for your unique situation and your needs. If I can help you on your estate planning journey or answer any other questions, please give me a call (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient appointment with my firm, Johnson Law KC LLC.

(c) 2013, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

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