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Executors & Trustees

Who are they and why do I need one?


An executor or trustee is appointed to manage the property owned by an estate or by trust, respectively. The executor or trustee holds a great deal of responsibility in that they control a certain amount of assets and must manage those assets in a way that benefits the heirs of the will or trust. The last will or trust document and state laws dictate what an executor or trustee can do and how they do it. 

The executor’s or the trustee’s most important job, is to make sure the terms of the will or trust document are carried out. In addition, the executor or trustee must keep accurate books, ensure
​the appropriate tax documents are prepared, filed, and sent, and may be required to report these activities to the beneficiaries.

That all sounds great, but how do I choose?

WHERE TO START

Technically, you can choose anyone - person or entity - to act as your executor or trustee. The most common choices for executors or trustees include individuals like a spouse, sibling, or child and corporate trustees like a bank. Each has its benefits as well as its drawbacks.

FAMILY ACCESS

When a will or trust creator appoints an individual as executor or trustee, they typically choose a family member or family members. This is an efficient choice for several reasons. A family member might also be a beneficiary, making it easy to determine how a particular action will affect the beneficiaries. A family member will be easy for related beneficiaries to track down by phone or in person. A family member could also be more likely to consider the input of the beneficiaries when making certain decisions regarding the trust property. Unfortunately, this means that a family member might favor the input of one beneficiary over another or might treat an estranged relative differently from the others. Finally, a family member often doesn't require a fee.

CORPORATE DETACHMENT

A corporate executor or trustee comes with none of these complications. Your corporate executor or trustee will be less susceptible to the pressures of family politics and will be more likely to be completely fair when distributions are made. A corporate executor or trustee will be better equipped to keep accurate books and records. However, a corporate executor or trustee will require a fee, often calculated as a percentage of the total value of the property in the estate or trust. A corporate executor or trustee also might be less available for phone or in-person conversations. Finally, a corporate executor or trustee will probably be less willing to discuss their decisions with the beneficiaries. Instead, they will rely exclusively on the trust document to guide their decisions.

CONVERSATION STARTER

The best place to start is with a conversation with your family. A family meeting can be invaluable in deciding who you should appoint. Your attorney may even be willing to attend that meeting to answer questions and address your concerns.



Have a questions about your Executor or Trustee appointment? Submit questions about your particular situation in the "Contact Us Today" window on the right and click "Submit".  An AT Law attorney will be in touch shortly to help you with your inquiry.