If you decide to leave assets in a trust for your beneficiaries, consider your designation of trustee carefully. The most important person in the trust framework is the trustee, the one responsible for managing trust assets.
The trustee holds property for one or more beneficiaries. The trustee is the one who handles all the necessary paperwork and sees that tax returns are filed.
Trust law creates a fiduciary responsibility under which the trustee is accountable to the trust beneficiaries, and must serve the beneficiaries’ best interests.
Bearing that in mind, your choices include:
Individual trustee: A friend or relative probably will be familiar with the parties involved and may well make the decisions desired by you, the trust creator.
Institutional trustee: Your local bank or trust company might have the resources to manage money and the staying power to handle long-term trusts.
To get the best of both worlds, consider naming an institution and an individual as co-trustees. You may get financial expertise and personal attention. If discretionary decisions are permitted, you can direct that both co-trustees must agree.
Putting “trustee removal” powers into a trust can reduce the risk that a trustee will prove to be unsatisfactory. A majority vote of adult income beneficiaries may be sufficient for a substitution; the new trustee or co-trustee must be an unrelated person or institution.
Whenever you name an individual as trustee or co-trustee, be sure the person is qualified to do the job, then get his or her consent. Name a successor trustee, too, in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.