A Matter of Trust : 3 Things to Consider When Choosing an Executor or Trustee

You’ve decided to have your will or trust made, and now you have a decision to make. Who is it that you will ask to be your Executor or Trustee? You’ll be asking someone to be put into a position of trust. How do you choose who you will name to handle this important role in your life and after death? Here are some things to consider.

The terms Executor and Trustee are often used synonymously, but in reality are two different roles related to the management and distribution of someone’s estate after they die.

The Executor

An Executor is usually a friend or family member who must agree to commit at least a year or longer to the management of the estate and to see his/her responsibilities through to the end.This could include payment of debts, sale of property and distribution of other assets . He or she might be able to do this independently in a relatively short period of time, or , for larger, or more complex estates, will be required to work within the guidelines of probate court directives. The trustee is tasked with all of the financial responsibility, and entrusted with making sure that your wishes are carried out, all debts and taxes are paid and that your heirs receive the remaining assets of the estate in accordance with your will.

The Trustee

The trustee you choose will be tasked with overseeing the trust account and making certain that the assets in the trust will be distributed to the beneficiaries you have designated to receive them after your death. If you have minor children when you die, the trustee will be required to maintain the trust and pay out funds as legally required and necessary until the children reach the age to receive their share of the distribution. This sometimes requires long-term financial management and for the trustee to pay out living expenses for these individuals.

3 things to consider in choosing your Executor or Trustee:

  • Your chosen Executor/Trustee  should be a reliable person, stable and trustworthy, good with money and good at keeping records.You also want to choose someone who is financially stable in their own life to minimize chances of funds in the estate being misappropriated or mishandled.
  • Your choice for Executor/Trustee is someone whom your heirs and spouse are comfortable dealing with and that there is no potential for conflict between your Executor/Trustee and your surviving family members. It must be understood in advance (when you make your estate plan) that this person’s role is set and they will see it through to the distribution and finalization of the estate. Contention about the contents of the will aside, your heirs must accept that your Executor or Trustee is following your wishes as set out in your will.
  • Your Executor/Trustee must have the skillset to handle all the role requires. Consider choosing a professional person with business experience, demonstrated skill in their chosen field of occupation and a level of education that indicates they will be able to handle the multiple levels of responsibility needed to manage your estate. Think of it as hiring an employee. Your executor will be compensated for this job, either with a flat rate or a percentage of the final assets of the estate. A trustee may receive a monthly fee for his/her services. He/she must operate within the legal system and carry out his/her duties to the letter of the law.

 

We urge you to think carefully and consider all of these questions when you appoint the Trustee and Executor for your estate. Contact U.S. Wills and Trusts when you’re ready to set up your estate plan. http://www.uswillsandtrusts.com . It’s easy and you can talk to an attorney for free.

Simply call 714-584-7492 to get started.