Look for These Characteristics When Choosing a Trustee or Executor

Look for These Characteristics When Choosing a Trustee or ExecutorDo you need help in choosing the right trustee, executor and agent for your financial power of attorney? This can easily be the most important decision you make with your estate plan. If your successor trustee fails to follow your plan, your plan fails.

There are a few key characteristics that good successor trustees have:

First, they must be trustworthy. This sounds obvious, but if you have any doubts about someone’s character, do not name them as your successor trustee.

Second, a good successor trustee must have some basic financial knowledge. They need to know the difference between a bond and a mutual fund. They also need to have the ability to spot a scam and avoid being ripped off (with your money!).

Finally, the person you name as your successor trustee must be financially sound. Do not name a successor trustee, even a child, if they are living paycheck to paycheck. The temptation for someone like that may too great to “loan” themselves some of your money the next time they get in a bind.

Before asking a friend or loved one to serve as trustee, be sure to protect them as much as possible from the pitfalls that could go along with the job:

Limit liability. Whether you or your potential trustee know it or not, he or she can be opening themselves up to personal liability when they accept the position. A strongly-worded liability clause – written by a qualified Florida estate planning attorney – can help limit the person’s liability and make them more comfortable about saying “yes.”

Make provisions for professional help. Spell out terms in your trust that allows your trustee to hire expert help to sort out the details if they should need it.

Give them what they need to succeed. Make sure your estate planning documents – wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, etc. – are clear, legally binding, and that your executor or trustee has all the information and support he or she needs to get the job done.

With the proper guidance, you can protect your finances and spare your loved ones the frustration of having to make costly and difficult decisions.  Contact us for your free initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.