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Choosing a Private Professional Fiduciary as Your Successor Trustee

Acting as a trustee is a very important job and choosing your trustee can be a difficult decision. In addition to this person handling your estate upon your death, you also have to think about the possibility that this individual may have to take over the management of your affairs if you become incapacitated.

Many people choose an adult child or other family member to be the successor trustee of their trust. But there may be some valid reasons to choose an independent third party to act as your trustee during your lifetime or after your death. Some people do not have children or close relatives or friends they can name to serve as the trustee of their trust. Some people have children or relatives but they do not want to burden their family members with the job. Maybe their children live in another state or have busy lives with their jobs and family. Some people may not want to name any of their children for fear it will jeopardize the relationship between siblings. So what are some other options for your choice of a trustee?

1. Corporate Fiduciaries. Corporate fiduciaries can be banks, trust companies, or trust departments. They are insured and closely monitored by federal and state regulators. The down side may be that some of these corporate fiduciaries have a minimum value of an estate which they will accept. Their fees may be higher than other types of fiduciaries and some beneficiaries feel the service is impersonal.

2. Other Professionals such as Attorneys or CPAs. In past years it was more common to see the family attorney or CPA named as the successor trustee of a trust. Today, although many could certainly serve, most feel that the job of a trustee goes beyond just the legal or the financial aspects and decline to act as a trustee.

3. Private Professional Fiduciaries. Private professional fiduciaries in California have specific training and take an exam to become licensed. Many have years of experience before they become fiduciaries working in a trust department or managing trust funds. Their fees are usually lower than banks and you will receive personal service. It is their full time job to take care of you and your estate.

The estate planning attorneys at Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation can recommend private professional fiduciaries we work with and in whom we have confidence. Before choosing a private professional fiduciary, interview several and decide on the one you feel would best fit with you, your family, and your estate.

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