If you are like other Illinois residents, part of your New Year's resolutions was to create an estate plan. Doing so could put your mind and the minds of your family members at ease.
As you begin formulating your estate plan, you may determine that the addition of a trust would best serve your purposes. In that case, you will need to choose someone to serve as trustee after your death. This choice may be the most important one you make for a variety of reasons.
Can the person you choose do the job?
Not only do you need to trust the individual you appoint to carry out your wishes while keeping the best interests of the beneficiaries in mind, but you also need to know whether he or she is able to do the job. This does not mean that he or she needs to have a full understanding of the law; it just means that he or she understands the basics of the duties and can find help when needed.
In addition, just because you choose someone, it doesn't mean that he or she is willing to serve in this capacity. The duties of a trustee are not necessarily finite as they are for the executor of your will. It could be years before your trust is fully distributed and terminates. You need to confer with your choice to see whether he or she wants to take on this responsibility. Your choice needs to understand what the position entails and what consequences could arise if something goes wrong.
How will your choice affect the family dynamic?
Even though it helps if everyone gets along, it is not necessarily a requirement. However, it is important to ensure that the trustee and the beneficiaries can work together enough to appropriately administer the trust. If you choose a member of your family, it needs to be the one who usually gets along with everyone. While you may lean toward someone with financial acumen, he or she may not get along with the rest of the family.
Your trustee can easily obtain financial and legal assistance with the administration of your trust. Keeping relationships intact requires more finesse and a better foundation from the start. Otherwise, the situation could degrade to the point where the assets in the trust are going toward legal fees instead of your beneficiaries.
You may also want to appoint a successor trustee who could step in should your first choice no longer be able or available to serve.