How Many Trustees Should I Have?

As with most things estate planning related, there is no one-size fits all approach to this question. That being stated, I think it is helpful to go over some of the considerations you may need to make when determining who should be your Trustee and how many Trustees you should have.

First, you may want to determine whether or not you want to give the power to a family member or if you want an independent party to be the Trustee. In making this decision, you should be thinking about the ability of the person to act in such a role. For example, you may have a child who cares about you deeply, but is not really mature enough to take on such a fiduciary responsibility. On the other side of the coin, you may have a child who is very mature and capable, but they may not have the time necessary to perform the responsibilities of the role. You may have a spouse with children from a former marriage, or you yourself may have children from a former marriage. If this is the case, you may want someone in the role who can be as objective as possible so you can ensure your wishes are carried out after you pass away, or for that matter…if you are incapacitated.

Second, you may have Trustees who will act in the event of your incapacity and those who will act when you pass away. These can be the same person(s)/institutions(s) or different, and this will likely depend on both your circumstances, and the powers that exist for each.

Also, you may want to name backup or Successor Trustees who can act in the event that your Trustee is unable or unwilling to act for whatever reason, or if they are removed.

There may be legal or tax consequences associated with your decisions. There are a myriad of these concerns so you should discuss any decision you make with your estate planning attorney before naming anyone.

Finally, you may choose to name different Trustees (family or independent) depending on the type of trust, and/or the responsibilities of the Trustee. For example, you may name an Administrative Trustee whose role is generally to maintain records, accounts and tax returns, a General Trustee who manages Trust operations, an Investment Trustee/Advisor who oversees and/or directs investments, and a Distribution Trustee who makes or withholds distributions.

Again, the decision is largely dependent on individual circumstances and any decisions you make should be discussed with an attorney before taking action. If you would like to discuss your situation with a Connecticut Trusts attorney, you can get my contact information by clicking here.

Categories: Estate Planning