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Pros and cons of picking a family member as a trustee

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Estate Planning |

When you set up a trust, you have to pick a trustee. The trust provides instructions for how assets should be distributed, but it is the trustee who makes those distributions. The beneficiary cannot access the money without them.

People often choose a family member or a close friend to be the trustee. If you are setting up your documentation, or considering doing so in the near future, it is important to consider who you would want to pick and why to do so. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of choosing a family member.

The upside

On the positive side, a close friend or family member will appreciate what you want and will care about upholding the trust properly. They’ll understand your goals and your wishes, and they will want to ensure the trust is used properly.

Additionally, choosing someone you’re close to means that you can often count on them and you can have conversations about the trust in advance. They will have intimate knowledge of what you want to be done with your assets so that they can continue ensuring that happens long after your own death.

The downside

One potential downside is that this could lead to estate disputes. For instance, if you choose your oldest child as the trustee and the younger children as beneficiaries, they may become frustrated, feeling like they are dependent on their sibling for access to their own inheritance.

Additionally, some people don’t want to be a trustee in the first place. They feel like it is a burden and they just want to move on with their own life. This is why it’s so important to talk to the trustee in advance, ensuring that they actually want the job.

There are many options for how to use a trust, and choosing a trustee is just one important step. Carefully consider all of your legal options as you go through this process.