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How To Select My Trustee

Dear Phyllis,
Having read your column for years, I know how important it is to have a living trust. And I recall you mentioning that it’s preferable to have just one trustee or an odd number so that there can be a tiebreaker in the event of a disagreement. I have an appointment with a trust attorney to set this up.
My dilemma is that I have two children. My son is the oldest and lives locally. However, my daughter is much more responsible but lives in Texas. Since you recommend that I don’t have both my children as trustees, I am torn. I know I am old-fashioned, but I think he should be the trustee since he is the oldest. I know you are a Realtor with a lot of trust sale experience, so I want your thoughts.

Dear Torn,
Based on my personal experience with co-trustees and the challenges that can arise, I understand your concerns. Selecting someone solely based on birth order or gender stereotypes may not always be the most appropriate or effective approach. When appointing a trustee, it’s important to consider factors such as their financial insight, organizational skills and, most importantly, the capability to make hard decisions.
In addition to selecting a trustee, appointing a durable power of attorney is prudent. This individual would have the authority to act on your behalf if you were to become mentally or physically incapacitated. The durable power of attorney should also be someone you trust implicitly and who will make decisions in your best interests.
To avoid potential conflicts, having open and honest discussions with your family members about your intentions and the reasoning behind your choices can be helpful. This can help set clear expectations and potentially alleviate any concerns or misunderstandings that may arise.
You are wise to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your trust is properly structured and that you have considered all relevant factors when selecting a trustee and durable power of attorney. They can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and help you create a plan that minimizes potential conflicts and stress for your family.