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How to choose a trustee or executor for an estate plan

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2020 | Estate Planning & Administration, Uncategorized |

One estate planning task that some people in Pennsylvania may struggle with is choosing the right executor or trustee. There are a number of factors that should be taken into account, including the age and health of the individual.

Ideally, an executor or trustee should be someone who is likely to outlive the individual creating the estate plan. An individual might assume that this person needs to have legal or financial expertise, but this is not necessarily the case. The person should have a reasonably good business sense but should also know when to consult professionals. Some people prefer to appoint a corporate trustee, but there can be drawbacks. A responsibility to shareholders can leave corporate trustees less flexible than individual ones, and they can also cost more. Naming successor trustees or executors can help ensure that if one individual dies, there is someone to step in that person’s place, and some people may want to use a corporate trustee as a final backup.

Another possibility is naming co-trustees; although, this has its potential disadvantages as well. Conflicts can arise after an individual’s death even between people where it seems unlikely. Finally, even with successors named, people should review their estate plan after major family changes to ensure that they still want the same people for the same roles.

An attorney can help an individual in creating an estate plan. This could include determining whether it would be better to use a will or a trust as the main estate planning vehicle. Some people may not realize how powerful a trust can be and that a family does not have to be wealthy to benefit from the use of trusts. For example, trusts can protect assets for loved ones who have special needs or beneficiaries likely to spend irresponsibly.