One major component of the Houston estate planning process is picking a trustee to manage the estate after they have passed away. While it may seem like a simple solution to name a family member, it is not always in the best interest of the person—or their loved ones—to do so. Professional trustees have inherent benefits because their experience ensures the estate plan is properly handled. However, because people do not know what a professional trustee is—and what they actually do—below are answers to common questions about professional trustees and if they are right for a person’s specific estate plan.
What Tasks Must a Trustee Perform?
While it is easy to say that trustees are responsible for managing an estate plan after a person passes away, this does not actually explain a trustee’s responsibilities. A trustee’s responsibilities include safeguarding and distributing assets, filing and paying taxes, resolving beneficiary disputes, and paying any estate expenses. These tasks can often be extremely overwhelming and complicated, especially if a person has never served as a trustee before. Instead, a professional trustee can take care of all of the administrative and technical work, allowing the family members to grieve and not add additional stress to their plate.
What Traits Should I Look for in a Trustee?
Because of the responsibilities a trustee must undertake, there are particular qualities an individual should seek out when picking a trustee.
When evaluating potential trustees, people should look for experience, trustworthiness, and a hard work ethic.
There also can be complicated family dynamics when a loved one serves as a trustee. While family members will not charge a trustee fee—although they are often entitled to do so, if they want—there can often be resentment within the family depending on how the trustee is viewed by other family members. Because this can already be an upsetting and stressful time for a family, having a loved one trustee may irreparably damage family dynamics and even lead to legal action. On the other hand, a professional trustee treats managing the estate as a business relationship. They have the knowledge and experience to respect the rights of beneficiaries and the intentions of the individual who created the estate plan without taking family biases into account.
Because a person needs to name a trustee in order to finalize their estate plan, Texans going through this process should not put off finishing the process for this reason alone. Therefore, people who have come to an impasse on who to name as their trustee should contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can talk them through the process and help decide who the right trustee is for them.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
To learn more about hiring a professional trustee—or to receive assistance with drafting an estate plan—contact the experienced Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Our knowledgeable attorneys have years of experience navigating the estate planning process and can answer any questions you may have about your particular situation. We help you to problem solve and pick a trustee that is best for you—be it a family member, a professional, or having them serve as co-trustees. To speak with one of our attorneys today, call us today at 713-333-8900.