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Choosing a trustee for your estate is a big decision

Once you decide to create a trust, you'll find yourself faced with a variety of decisions and questions. Among the most important are those associated with choosing a trustee.

In short, this person is responsible for administering property and assets both while you're alive and after your passing. Since this is such a big decision, it's critical that you choose the perfect trustee for your situation and goals.

Here are several questions to answer as you attempt to make a final choice:

  • Does your trustee have the ability to tune other people out so that they're able to follow your wishes?
  • Does your trustee have knowledge of your assets, how to analyze them and how to make the best possible financial decisions?
  • Can you trust your trustee to do the right thing with your money, as opposed to taking risks that could result in a loss?
  • Will your trustee be able to balance their personal feelings with their duties?

By answering these questions, you'll find yourself eliminating some people from your short list and adding others.

Traits to look for in a trustee

While you can name almost anyone as your trustee, search for someone who has the following traits:

  • Honest to a fault
  • Trustworthy
  • Reliable
  • Organized
  • Good communication skills

Adding to the above, it typically makes sense to choose a trustee who lives in close proximity to you. This isn't required, but it allows for the person to act in a more timely, efficient and effective manner when necessary.

With all this in mind, it's time to cut down your list of potential trustees. Consider the following people to start:

  • Spouse
  • Adult child
  • Relative, such as a brother or sister
  • Close friend

Keep in mind that the decision you make could anger other people in your life.

For instance, if you appoint one child as the trustee, it's critical that they're willing to provide other siblings with information and feedback pertaining to the process. Neglecting to do so has the potential to turn into a lawsuit, which is exactly what you're trying to avoid with the creation of a trust.

If you've yet to choose a trustee, it's time to consider all of your options and make a confident decision. And if you have made this choice, review it once again to ensure that you're still happy.

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