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Considerations before appointing a spouse or child as a trustee

When someone in Upstate New York decides to fund a revocable trust as a part of estate planning, determining whom to appoint as the trustee would require careful consideration. The testator would want to know that his or her plans would be carried out as wished. A trustee could be a spouse, child or another family member, or the choice might fall on a professional person such as an attorney.

The duties of a trustee include, among others, impartiality between beneficiaries, making prudent investments of trust funds and providing relevant accounting to all the beneficiaries. Therefore, choosing a family member would require considering the weaknesses and strengths of potential trustees. When a spouse or a child is chosen, a testator should consider whether that person will have the necessary time to serve and carry out a trustee’s duties?

Also, a testator should think about whether that person would be able to separate the interests of the beneficiaries and personal feelings? Furthermore, if there were children from previous relationships on both spouses’ sides, would they all receive fair treatment? If the spouse were the trustee, how would he or she deal with the trustee duties if entered into a new marriage? If a child is chosen, will it cause tension between siblings? There could be sons or daughters-in-law who might not work with the selected trustee peacefully.

On the other hand, if the choice is a professional trustee, like a trust company or bank, would they understand the surviving loved ones and their needs. Furthermore, the costs of appointing a professional trustee need consideration. Another option for testators in upstate New York is to appoint more than one trustee. When this is the testator’s choice, the trust agreement must indicate each trustee’s duties, such as investments, recordkeeping and other responsibilities, based on their individual strengths.

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