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How to choose the right trustee the first time

There is more to creating a trust than meets the eye. In addition to adding assets to the trust, there's something else you need to think about: finding the right person to serve as trustee.

While this sounds as simple as naming a trustee and moving on with the rest of the estate planning process, you don't want to make a rash decision that you may regret at some point in the future.

Here are a few tips for choosing the right trustee the first time around:

  • Make a list of a few people who make sense. You will only choose one, but having a list makes it much easier to make a confident decision.
  • Find someone with knowledge and expertise. This is not a must, but it never hurts to name a trustee who has some level of knowledge and expertise regarding trusts and estate planning in general.
  • Ask permission. You never want to name a person as trustee of your trust until you first discuss it with him or her. Doing so can lead to trouble down the road, such as a person who doesn't want to take on the responsibility when the time comes. You can protect against this risk by asking a person if he or she wants to serve as trustee. Even if the answer is no, at least you know to look for someone else.
  • Review your trust and estate plan often. The person you name as trustee today may not make sense a year or several years from now. For example, if the person passes on, he or she can no longer serve as the trustee. This will lead you to make an immediate change.

These aren't the only tips to follow when choosing a trustee, but they are definitely among the most important. With this advice, you'll find it much easier to make an informed decision.

As long as you understand the finer details of a trust, how to name a trustee, and how things will play out upon your passing, you shouldn't have many (if any) concerns.

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