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How To Choose A Trustee


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A trustee is the person who carries out the terms of a Trust. There can be more than one trustee ("Co-Trustees"). Trustees can be individuals or professionals or both. Trustees may be paid or asked to serve for free.

When choosing a trustee, consider the trustee's responsibilities under the terms of the trust, and whether the particular person or people can fulfill those responsibilities. Of course, if there are sufficient funds, the trustee can hire the expertise he or she doesn't have.

There are two basic types of trustees: the individual trustee and the corporate trustee. The individual trustee can be any person determined by the Grantor. Attorneys and CPAs are well qualified for the role, but are not essential. Family members and friends are often chosen.

Professional (corporate) trustees generally provide continuity, expertise and impartiality.

It is not unusual to have two trustees, such as an individual and a professional trustee.

The advantage of this type of arrangement is that each trustee can bring different strengths to the table. The individual can provide information about the Grantor's wishes and the beneficiary. The professional can bring investment and other expertise. (If there is more than one trustee, the rights and obligations of each should be clearly spelled out to avoid unnecessary conflict or stalemates.)

A trustee may be held personally liable for not following the instructions in a trust or satisfying standards expected of a reasonable person acting as trustee. The trustee does not eliminate responsibility by hiring professionals to assist with particular jobs, such as investment management.

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