Choosing an Executor or Trustee

Should you appoint a loved one or a professional as an executor/trustee?

If you are currently involved in creating an estate plan you might be faced with a will or trust in the near future.  If either of these documents is used in your planning you will have to choose a representative to administer it according to your terms.  Because this person or entity will be responsible for carrying out your wishes, it is important to choose someone whom you trust and who has a demonstrated financial ability. 

Choosing an executor or trustee often gives estate planners a lot of grief as they are usually very concerned with picking the right person.  When making this decision, you do have a couple of options to consider and you also have the ability to create a situation that you feel totally comfortable with.  While traditionally the position of executor or trustee was given to a loved one, this is not always a great idea.  If no one in your life fulfills the requirements, you might be considering a service provider, such as an attorney or accountant, whom you currently work with.  This too can be a problem as this type of arrangement has the potential to result in a conflict of interest.

While it may seem like you have run out of options at this point, you have not.  There are professionals who administer wills and trusts by occupation and who can be hired to administer yours.  While it might be possible to get a rough estimate of how much the service will cost, it is nearly impossible to get a definite number as the professional will not know how much work will be involved with the administration until after you die.  Of course, all fees will be paid out of your estate.

Even using a professional might not be sufficient to alleviate your worry.  In that case, it is recommended that you use a combination of parties.  As many executors and trustees need the assistance of a professional while carrying out their duties anyway, you can make it easier for them by appointing someone up front.  Estate planning is about being prepared and appointing a backup executor or trustee is encouraged.  In this way, you are able to appoint a loved one to act as an administrator and let them know which professional you would like them to work with.

Posted in Estate Planning

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