What to Consider Before Saying ‘Yes’ to Serving as Someone’s Trustee
You are not legally required to take on the responsibility of trustee if you are asked to do so, or even if you were named trustee without your knowledge. There is typically a list of people named in an estate plan to be potential trustees, and if you decline, the next person will then take over.
If you are asked to be someone’s trustee, it’s important to carefully consider the responsibility before agreeing to the role. The following are some factors to consider:
Do you have a good grasp on what the role entails? Trustees are in charge of wrapping up the financial affairs of a deceased person. Your job will be to gather all trust property, make sure it’s safe and then distribute it to beneficiaries. You will also be in charge of filing tax returns, paying off debts and getting assets appraised. This takes a lot of time and effort, so it’s important to be aware of the full scope of responsibility so you can determine whether you are able to fulfill the duties of the job.
Will there be conflict? If there is likely to be conflict among beneficiaries, you need to be comfortable playing the middle man and be unwilling to back down in the face of pressure.
Is there another trustee? If there is a co-trustee, you need to know you’ll work well with this person and that there won’t be a power struggle in administrating the trust.
Do you want to do it? Most people don’t particularly hope to be named someone else’s trustee. But are you willing to take on the responsibility? This is just as important to consider as whether you’re able to do it and what kind of challenges you’ll face with the job. If your heart’s not in it and you don’t think you’d do a good job, you might be better off declining.
For more information on the duties of a trustee, consult an experienced Orlando will and trust lawyer with Gierach & Gierach, P.A.