You’ve done all the right things in creating your California estate plan.
Well, almost all of them.
You have a will. You created a trust – one that you’ve ably managed for a number of years. But now that you are getting older, you need to think about delegating a successor trustee to take the reins should you become unable to administer it. Choosing a trustee is a big decision, since you are picking the person who will help to cement your financial wishes.
One option is to hire a trustee who can help you manage it now, then take over and make the decisions when you’re gone. By working with a trustee when you’re alive, you can get to know each other. You can see the trustee at work, and the trustee can learn about the goals and desires you have for your legacy.
Who will manage your trust is a decision not to be taken lightly. The trust administrator has a number of duties that require both knowledge of finances and your personal wishes.
A trustee must have the ability to keep records and manage the trust’s assets in the beneficiaries’ best interests. That includes responsibilities such as making timely payments to beneficiaries, filing taxes, administering terms of the trust, managing investments, avoiding conflicts of interest and settling issues that could arise among beneficiaries.
Administering a trust is not easy; it takes time and skill. Attorneys who work in the estate planning field will be able to go into detail about trust administration and the specifics of what a trustee does, and they also can lay out for you the qualities you should look for in a trustee.