Orsbon & Fenninger, LLP

Estate Planning and Estate Administration

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Choosing the right trustee

There are several factors North Carolina residents who are setting up a trust should consider when choosing a trustee. It is important to choose someone who agrees to be a fiduciary. A fiduciary has a legal obligation to look after the settlor's interests. It is also important for the person to have the right expertise. This includes knowledge of tax and investing, but additional specialized knowledge might be necessary as well depending on the nature of the trust. In these circumstances, multiple trustees with different areas of expertise might be appointed.

A trustee must also have good people skills. It may help to introduce beneficiaries to a potential trustee to see how they get along. Another consideration is the age of the trustee. An older person may be right for the job, but there is a danger that person might die first. One option might be to name the person anyway but also name a successor trustee. A business, such as a law firm or bank, can be a trustee as well, but it can be more expensive than appointing an individual.

People should review their choice of trustee regularly to ensure that it is still appropriate. A settlor may become estranged from a trustee or decide the person is not the right choice for some other reason.

A person who is in charge of trust administration has several legal responsibilities. While many trustees have a legal background, others do not. Those who are in the latter category can avail themselves of the assistance of an experienced attorney when questions arise.

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