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What are some factors to consider when choosing a trustee?

Setting up a trust is one way for an individual in New Jersey to put into place a plan for passing down assets upon death. However, not only must an individual choose who the beneficiaries of the trust will be, a trustee must be chosen as well. A trustee is the individual who will manage the deceased's assets, make sure that debts and other expenses are paid and make distributions per the terms of the trust.

Sometimes an individual chooses a relative or friend as the trustee. The following are some factors individuals should keep in mind when choosing a trustee. First of all, consider the individual's age. Will that person still be living and mentally able to carry out the duties of a trustee? In addition, the trustee needs to have the time available to execute the trustee duties properly. Also, will the trustee be willing and able to travel, if necessary, in order to perform the trustee duties? Moreover, is the trustee familiar with the finances of the creator of the trust?

Character wise, a trustee should be responsible, fair and honest. In addition, a trustee has to prepare for the potential conflicts that could come up. Finally, consider whether the trustee has a relationship with the beneficiaries of the trust.

In addition to choosing a trustee, it may be a good idea to also choose an alternate trustee. An alternate trustee can step into the shoes of the original trustee if that person cannot or does not want to serve as a trustee when the creator of the trust passes away.

As this shows, New Jersey residents should not rush into naming someone as their trustee, but instead should give it careful thought. Sometimes an individual will determine that instead of choosing a friend or relative to fulfill this role, they will choose a professional who has the experience and knowledge of how to manage a trust.

Source: The Spectrum, "Choosing a trustee for your trust," Bo Bingham, June 9, 2016

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