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How do you choose a strong trustee?

When you decide to create a trust, one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is identifying someone who can serve effectively as a trustee. Many people do not fully understand the responsibilities that a trustee carries, or the complications that a trustee who does not uphold his or her position can create.

A trustee is not merely someone who you think can perform the duties associated with the position, although this is certainly an important quality you should seek out in a candidate. Competence is key, but trustworthiness is also important. When you assign person the position of trustee he or she gains a significant amount of power to manage the contents of the trust, so it is important to choose someone with both competence and proper strength of character to handle your resources wisely and honestly.

It is also important to consider practical matters like the trustee's proximity to the creator of a trust or to the beneficiaries. If you pass away suddenly, the trustee must make it a priority to deal with your trust and any implications that your death may have on its contents, so a trustee who is capable and willing to perform the job but located hundreds of miles away may not be the wisest choice in some circumstances.

Similarly, it is wise to think through any conflicts of interest that a trustee may have in administering the trust, especially if the trustee has interpersonal conflicts with the beneficiaries. Be sure to fully consider your candidates before you approach anyone, to ensure that you are choosing a trustee who will honor your wishes and protect your priorities skillfully and efficiently.

Source: FindLaw, "Choosing the "Best" Trustee," accessed April 06, 2018

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