Most people consider trusts to be a part of their Florida estate plans to aid them in distributing property to loved ones. Indeed, a trust allows individuals to protect their assets while avoiding the time and costs associated with probate.
However, the trust must be managed by an individual designated as the trustee. This person must be responsible for and capable of handling the distribution of the trust’s property and assets.
When appointing a trustee for your trust, there are a few things to consider. Here, we will discuss the important factors that all trust owners (grantors) should consider before settling on a trustee.
The Trustee’s Abilities
One of the most crucial factors to consider first is whether the individual you designate as trustee of the trust is capable of managing your trust. Legally, any adult over 18 years of age can be appointed as the trustee.
With that said, there are other factors that could disqualify most 18-year-olds from being viable trustees. It’s important to ensure that your trustee is reasonably capable of managing your assets and following the wishes you laid out in your trust. If you appoint someone who is likely to bend under pressure and not maintain your best interests, there could be serious ramifications.
As such, it’s always best to use wisdom and consider all of your options. The last thing you want is for your trust to be handled in a manner that contradicts your wishes.
Naming a Successor
Even if you choose the best trustee in the world, nothing is certain. In the unfortunate event that something should happen to your trustee, it’s important to have a backup in place to take over your trust’s management.
This person is known as your successor trustee. This individual would take over if your trustee passes away or otherwise becomes incapable of acting in your best interest.
If you don’t name a successor trustee, it will be up to your beneficiaries to appoint one. However, this isn’t always so cut and dry, as there are often disagreements as to who should take over the trust. When this happens, and no one can agree on a successor, it becomes the court’s responsibility to assign one.
Keep in mind that this could lead to a successor whom you never intended to manage your assets. Therefore, you may wish to avoid such potentialities by naming successors when you establish your trust.
Appointing Additional Trustees
You may feel it’s necessary to appoint more than one trustee to manage your trust. It’s not uncommon to name more than one trustee, as many grantors feel it’s best to have more minds tending to their trusts.
Please note that if you wish there to be more than one trustee, it’s best to select an odd number of individuals. In doing so, you can be sure to avoid a stalemate. It’s certainly possible to have an even number of trustees. But if you go that route, consider adding something in your trust that addresses what to do if there’s ever a disagreement about how your assets should be managed.
Consider Additional Roles
When your trustee manages your trust, they are going to be in regular contact with your family members. As such, it’s important to put something in your trust that addresses who will discuss the particulars of your trust with the trustee.
By naming the best candidate to communicate with your trustee, it could potentially avoid conflicts. You want there to be smooth communications at all times, as this is the best way to ensure proper administration of your assets.
Think about who has the most level head among your loved ones and consider making them the main point of contact to discuss applicable matters with your trustee.
The best way to ensure that you make the right decisions for your trust is to secure the services of an estate planning attorney. When you have an estate planning attorney assisting you with your trust, you have an unbiased advocate who will help you make sure that you do what’s best for you and your wishes.
If you need a qualified estate planning attorney in Florida, contact the legal experts at Doane & Doane. You will have a highly accomplished legal firm to walk you through your estate planning, and you can be sure to approach your trust with legal expertise.
Contact Doane & Doane Today for Assistance
Doane & Doane was founded in 2003 remains one of the most trusted and respected estate planning firms in Southeast Florida. If you need assistance establishing an estate plan, appointing a trustee, or any other related issues, please contact us at 561-656-0200. Alternatively, you can always fill out our online contact form, and we will promptly respond to your inquiry.
The information in this blog post is for reference only and not legal advice. As such, you should not decide whether to contact a lawyer based on the information in this blog post. Moreover, there is no lawyer-client relationship resulting from this blog post, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you need legal counsel, please consult a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.