When we plan our estates, we rely on our friends and family to be there for us. We choose them as guardians for our children, executors for our estates and as healthcare proxies to make sure a random medical provider does not make our healthcare decisions. However, one place we may not want to rely on them is as trustees.
Trustee versus executor
The primary reason to not rely on our friends and family for trustee services is that there are specific legal requirements for trust administration. If our friends and family don’t have any special expertise in carrying out the duties of a trustee, we should pick someone else.
To be clear, there are similar issues when choosing an executor for a will. However, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. An executor position is one that lasts a brief time, usually less than a year, and you can contract with an attorney to help with the legal requirements. This is simply not the case for a trustee.
The trustee job is demanding
A trust can last for decades, or even longer as perpetual trusts can exist as well, which passes wealth down from generation to generation. This means that a trustee must not just have the skills and experience to run the trust, but it takes time and energy to maintain it. It is a job, so finding a trustee as hiring for a job.
In fact, if you create a perpetual trust, a single person trustee may be a bad idea. If the trust lasts for generations, then you need a trustee that can also act for generation. This, usually, means empowering an Illinois corporate trustee service with decades of history and financial viability to last for generations.
Impartiality is key
Many trusts use the wealth you built over your life for the benefit of your children and future generations. This means a trust needs more than financial and legal expertise. They will deal with complicated family issues, like in fighting and substance abuse issues. They must navigate these with impartiality, the ability to say no and with the heart to use assets to help your future get back on their feet.
Again, the key here is to treat finding a trustee as an employment process. It is not the time to pick a friend or family member, unless, of course, you have a friend or family member in the trustee business. Then, it may be okay. Consult with your estate planning attorney.