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Things To Consider Before Accepting The Role Of Trustee

Things to Consider Before Accepting the Role of Trustee

In estate planning, trust accounts are a popular way to maximize the value of your estate, giving will-writers greater control over how and when their assets will be distributed. Our recent blog post on the use of trust accounts in estate planning, we went over the basics of what trust accounts are and specifically how they benefit will writers. In our post on selecting a trustee, we advised readers on the things they should consider before appointing a trustee to oversee their trust accounts. Today, we hope to help people who have been approached by a loved one requesting you act as trustee for their trust.

You Don’t Have to Say Yes

The most important consideration for will writers choosing a trustee and potential trustees deciding to take on the role is if they are truly willing and able to manage the account. It can be difficult to say no when someone you care for asks for help, but accepting a role you aren’t capable of is never the right choice. Things you should ask yourself before agreeing include:

  • Do I have experience with the tasks required of me? Will I be able to do a good job?
  • Do I plan on moving away, starting a new job, or any other major life changes in the foreseeable future? Will that hinder my ability to look after the trust account?
  • Does my relationship with the settlor make me better suited to manage the trust? Could a professional trustee manage it better than I would?

It’s very important for potential trustees to assess if they are comfortable accepting the role. In many cases, proper management of a trust requires special skills, often in investment and asset management. If you think the will-writer would be better served by someone else or a professional, it’s best to be honest rather than take on a role you aren’t suited for. If the will-writer wants to appoint you because you have special knowledge of their family or other circumstances, you could ask the will-writer to appoint co-trustees. This way, you will be able to share tasks with other trustees who have different skills and experience.

Things to Remember

If you’re not sure if you should accept the role, ask the will-writer to clarify what your responsibilities will be. Remember that you can quit at any time, though in some circumstances you’ll be responsible for finding a replacement trustee. Further, in acting as trustee you are accepting a fairly limited degree of liability; trustees aren’t responsible for trust losses unless it was caused by their own fraud, breach of trust, or negligence. Trustees are not liable for their co-trustees breaches of trust or negligence.

Choosing to accept this role is a personal choice that may have emotional implications for some. It is important to be honest with the will-writer to avoid challenges in managing the trust in the future, and remember that you can always decline the role.

Have a question about this topic or a different legal topic? Contact us for a free consultation. Reach us via phone at 250-888-0002, or via email at info@leaguelaw.com.

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