Choosing trustees

People in North Carolina should give careful consideration when selecting a trustee option. In many cases, it may be necessary to look outside of one's own family to choose the right person to handle complicated estate matters or to have someone within a reasonable distance who can fulfill the duties appropriately.

It may also be beneficial to look outside one's immediate family if there is conflict between children. The burden that comes with being a successor trustee or co-trustee can be difficult to handle even in the best of circumstances.

Additional reasons that justify not considering a family member or friend as a successor trustee include having an estate with an operating business that will have significant financial repercussions if it ceases operations. Estates that have a complicated catastrophic succession plan may require specialized skills for proper administration. A family member or friend may also be inappropriate in cases in which there is an active lawsuit that has to be addressed by the estate.

One strategy that individuals may want to consider is using a professional as a successor trustee and designating a family member or friend as a health care directive appointee. There are other options to consider when opting for a professional trustee as a successor. A trusted friend or family member can be appointed as a co-trustee along with the professional trustee, who will serve as an intermediary between the trusted person and difficult family members. At the same time, the trusted person will address the majority of the tasks that have to be handled locally.

An attorney who practices estate planning law may assist clients with determining which types of trusts may best suit their goals for their assets. The attorney may assist with drafting provisions for the trust and with administration matters.

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