Estate planning is a sensitive subject for many families. Managing a large number of assets and ensuring your future generations are protected present a variety of time-consuming challenges—that’s why making the decision about whom to appoint as trustee deserves careful consideration. It may surprise you to learn that it’s often best to appoint a non-family trustee.
In many cases, people turn to their families first because they believe a family member will have their best interests in mind. However, while family members usually have good intentions, they don’t always make the best trustees. A trust company is often a better approach because they can provide continuity from one generation to the next. In this article, we’ll discuss the top reasons to appoint a non-family trustee.
1. Mitigate the legal risks
When you appoint a family member as trustee, they become a fiduciary for your trust. This means that they are legally obligated to manage the trust’s assets properly. If any of the beneficiaries disagree with how the trustee is managing the trust, they may personally sue your trustee–even if the trustee has followed the advice of an attorney, financial advisor or other qualified professional. Appointing a trust company, on the other hand, can help you mitigate these legal risks and ensure everything goes smoothly.
2. Leverage the best expertise
Most people outside the professional financial advice industry lack the knowledge and experience to successfully navigate an evolving legal system and appropriately manage a trust over an extended period of time. Since family trustees typically have to rely on the expertise of professionals to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities anyways, it often makes more sense to appoint someone who already has that expertise from the start.
3. Save the inconvenience
The role of a trustee is primarily an administrative job, similar to managing a small business. It requires accurate record keeping of all transactions, regular accounting reports, careful attention to critical deadlines and dedication to following all new changes in regulatory requirements. Plus, the trustee must represent the trust in all legal proceedings, should they arise. Needless to say, all of these obligations can place a burden on a family-elected trustee. A non-family trustee—like a trust company—on the other hand, is well-equipped to handle all of these tasks.
4. Prevent family conflict
As unlikely as it might seem in your personal situation, conflicts are far more likely to occur when a family member is appointed as trustee. Whether other family members feel the wrong person is in charge or unforeseen conflicts of interest arise down the road, family trustees have a way of creating division between loved ones.
At Live Oak Private Wealth, we always recommend consulting with a professional for all your wealth management and financial advice needs. Visit our website to learn more about our trust services and our experienced team of advisors, or contact us today if you’re ready to get started.