Whether you are choosing an executor for your Last Will and Testament or a trustee for a trust you have established, it is clearly important to make the right decision. You want to choose someone trustworthy, responsible, and capable of carrying out the responsibilities being entrusted to them. That is often easier said than done, but the following tips adapted from the American Association of Retired Persons might be able to provide some guidance.
You Do Not Need an Expert
We all have a natural desire to want to work with the best when it comes to important matters. While experience in trusts and estates is beneficial, it is not required to properly and responsibly execute the duties associated with being an executor or trustee. Common sense can provide a solid foundation to perform these duties, and you may prefer a more intimate relationship with the person you are naming than you might get with a professional. In some situations, it may be best to choose a corporate trustee from an institution like a bank. However, many individuals can avoid doing this by selecting a reasonable person – which will also help you avoid the professional fee that may be associated with these services.
Ensure Your Choice Will Be Available
You may want your best friend or spouse ot act as executor or trustee, but you need to take into consideration their age and health as well as your own. It will serve no purpose to nominate someone that may pass on before you or that could potentially be incapable of performing their duties when the time comes. This is not to say you have to name someone under a certain age, but you do want to make sure whomever you select is around to fulfill their duties. Make sure to nominate at least one person to step in and perform these duties just in case your primary choice is unavailable.
For large trusts and estates, or even for those that will be around for a substantial period of time, you may want to consider naming multiple executors and/or trustees. However, you should remain aware that doing so could potentially cause conflict between people sharing the role. You likely have a keen understanding of the familial relationships that exist in your world, and you should take them into account when deciding how to proceed with these important decisions.
Revisit Your Choices
Every few years, you should review and potentially revise your estate plan. You should also do this after any major life event. Major life events can include births, deaths, marriages, and divorces, among others. Revisiting your estate plan, including those you have nominated to serve as an executor or trustee, will allow you to amend important features to match the changing goals of your estate plan. Make sure to communicate any major changes to your estate or shifts in your estate planning goals to an experienced estate planning attorney that can help ensure your estate plan is up to date. Many reputable estate planning law firms offer periodic reviews of your estate plan included with their estate planning services to help ensure that you stay informed and vice versa.