Choosing the right trustee is one of the most important decisions you can make for your North Carolina estate. When you’re gone, the trustee will manage the trust, distribute assets, communicate with the beneficiaries and, ideally, act in your estate’s best interest at all times. Making someone a trustee doesn’t give them unlimited power over the trust, but a trustee with a hidden agenda might not act in accordance with your last wishes.
How do you choose a trustee?
When you start the estate planning process, choosing your spouse or child as your trustee might be your first instinct. Surely you can trust your spouse or child to fulfill your last wishes–right? Before you name a family member as your trustee, stop and think if they have any issues or biases regarding the beneficiaries. For example, if you make your spouse the trustee and the money goes to children from a previous marriage, your spouse might be reluctant to distribute the assets.
Next, you could choose an objective third-party like an accountant or an estate planning attorney. Typically, you can trust a neutral third party to act objectively and distribute your assets according to your wishes. However, these people aren’t part of your family, so they might not understand your beneficiaries’ needs and desires as much as a family member would. If you haven’t known this person very long, you might be hesitant to trust them with your family’s assets.
If you’re worried about asset distribution after your death, consider appointing two trustees. Two people could bring different strengths to the asset distribution process and keep an eye on each other to make sure that no one acts illegally or compromises your estate.
How do you form a trust?
When you place your assets in a trust, your assets will go directly to the beneficiaries without going through the probate process. A trust can also distribute sums of money over time instead of overwhelming the beneficiaries with one lump sum. An attorney could help you form a trust and choose the right person to oversee your assets.