Who Should I Designate as a Trustee?

When undertaking any type of estate planning, the question of “who?” becomes nearly as important as the questions of “what?”  Designating the right person (or people) to manage financial and other affairs is tremendously important.  When a trust is in place, the individual “in charge” of the trust is called the “trustee.”  The trustee’s role is central in the management and administration of the trust.  While the written terms contained in the agreement bind the trustee to certain duties, action and limitations, a trustee will undoubtedly still be given significant decision-making authority. In particular, a trustee generally (i) has broad discretion in investing trust assets and (ii) has some significant discretion relating to trust distributions to the named beneficiaries.  Accordingly, an appropriate trustee must have financial aptitude and strong organizational skills. Trustworthiness and integrity are also a must. Communication skills are similarly a major advantage as the trustee will likely be communicating with the beneficiaries.  The selection of the right trustee requires careful consideration and a thoughtful determination of who would best fill this central role.