5 Tips for When You Are Having Trouble Picking a Successor Trustee

When you sit down to create your estate plan, few decisions are as important as the person that you appoint as your successor trustee. The successor trustee is the person who is tasked with the role of overseeing the administration of your estate. This is very important, because a trustee who carries out his or her duties in a responsible manner can help to ensure that the administration is smooth and efficient. On the other hand, choosing a trustee who is not a good fit for the job can lead to unnecessary delay, costs, and controversy as your loved ones seek to wrap up your affairs after you pass away.

Five Tips for Choosing a Successor Trustee

Since the role of successor trustee is important, making a choice as to who should serve can be difficult. You may find yourself struggling between one or more possibilities. If this is the case, consider the following helpful tips:

  1. Considering choosing a professional trustee. There are companies whose specific job it is to carry out the duties of a trustee. The advantages are that the professional trustee is well versed in the duties and responsibilities of this role. The disadvantage is that the professional trustee must be compensated. Also, your loved ones may not feel as comfortable working with someone that they do not know on a personal level.
  2. Consider approaching a trusted advisor to serve as a successor trustee. One example might be your accountant. He or she is likely familiar with your assets and overall financial situation.
  3. If you are choosing between two different possibilities, consider the relationship between the potential trustee and your beneficiaries. Often, it is helpful to choose someone who has a good relationship with those that stand to benefit from the trust.
  4. Similarly, if you are trying to decide between two different options, do not rule out geography from your considerations. While a trustee does not necessarily have to live in California, it is often helpful for a trustee to be fairly local when it comes to carrying out his or her duties.
  5. Do not overly concern yourself with a potential trustee’s legal background. Just because someone has never served as a trustee in the past does not mean that he or she is incapable of doing the job. Keep in mind that your trustee will likely have the option of seeking assistance from important advisors, such as attorneys, CPA’s, and financial planners.

If you are still struggling with choosing the right person to be successor trustee of your trust, we encourage you to contact us today. Our office of knowledgeable attorneys is happy to help.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm