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The importance of choosing the right trustee

When New Yorkers are planning their living trusts, they will need to consider who to name to serve as their successor trustees. This decision is important because administering a trust is a complex and technical process, and the trustee must also be someone who can be trusted to work in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

Initially, people who draft living trusts will serve as the initial trustees. Married trustees will normally pass on the role of the trustee to their spouses when they die. If an unmarried person writes a trust, he or she will need to think about who to name as a successor trustee. Similarly, if a spouse of the initial trustee also dies, a successor trustee must be named to carry on the trust duties.

Children are often named as successor trustees, and they may be good choices as long as they have the knowledge and the time that they will need to devote to their duties. Children may be a good choice for couples who only have one child or have children who are able to get along well with each other. If the children are not able to fulfill the duties, or there is a danger that they will have conflicts, naming professional fiduciaries to serve as successor trustees might be a good idea. Banks often serve as trustees, but they might charge higher fees.

Choosing who to serve as successor trustees is an important consideration. People who are concerned about the risk of family disputes after they die might benefit by consulting with their estate planning lawyers who could recommend professional fiduciaries who are trustworthy and who can perform the duties that will be required.

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