What is a trustee and how do I choose one?
The general definition of a trustee is a person, or entity (like a bank), who holds and manages assets for the benefit of others. When Beller & Bustamante attorneys draft a will, we want our clients to nominate someone to take care of any property or money that shouldn’t or can’t be given directly to the beneficiary. For instance, your children may be over 18, but if you die many years in the future and some of your assets go to grandchildren who are under 18, they can’t legally manage the assets. A judge will have to appoint a trustee. Or maybe you don’t want one of your beneficiaries to get the property directly, you want someone else to manage and use the property to help the beneficiary. You need a trustee.
With small estates, most people choose a person who is good with business or money, and is trustworthy and responsible. The trustee does not have to be a relative, and the trustee does not have to be someone you are leaving money or property to.
Also, if you have minor children, you can appoint a trustee who is different than the guardian – the person responsible for raising your children until 18. You may have a loved one who you know will be the best person for caring for your children if the worst happened, but that person may not be great with money or you don’t want to overburden them. Just make sure you choose a guardian and trustee who will get along. You don’t want the person raising your children fighting with the person who controls the money to help raise them.
Beller & Bustamante attorneys will ask who you want to appoint as a trustee. We will also ask if you have an alternate trustee if the first person you nominate can’t do the job. Think about this very important role and who the best fit is for your plan.