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Naming A Trustee for Your Estate

A client recently came to me with an interesting dilemma. He said, “Our daughter is not very responsible with money. She’s a spendthrift. If we give our estate to her, she’ll blow it all. We don’t want that to happen, so we’d like to name our 28-year-old granddaughter as a trustee of the money for her mom. But we are concerned that our daughter will have a lot of influence over our trustee/granddaughter. How do we deal with that?”

When choosing a trustee for your estate, you have a couple of options. You can name a person as trustee. Most of the time, people choose a family member. If you decide to go this route, remember that you’re putting that person in a very delicate situation. A trustee’s main job is gatekeeper–the one who says, “No, you’re not going to buy that Corvette.” Having a family member as a trustee can create tense situations, especially between siblings. In addition, that trustee should know how to manage the Estates money and investments. Not everyone knows how to do that.

But there are a few more options. If you don’t want a family member or friend to serve as your trustee, you can ask a trusted financial advisor. You can also hire a corporate fiduciary from a trust company. This isn’t a cheap option, but a corporate fiduciary will do as you desire. You can be sure that your wishes will be implemented. Another option: You could use either of the above professional as co- trustee, and choose another person or entity as the other co-trustee. If you name the individual as primary, it could allow the person to make the final decision financial issue, while giving him or her an out, i.e., “The corporate trustee said you can’t buy that Corvette.” This solution is the one I recommended to my client; that he name his granddaughter as main trustee of his estate with a corporate fiduciary as co-trustee. By doing this, my clients granddaughter can follow his wishes without having to say no to her mom. Sounds like a good solution to me.