“You’re not the boss of me!”… What you need to consider when naming a family member as the trustee of your trust


Have you thought about how your family might treat each other when you’re gone?  It’s not a fun topic to consider, but a necessary one.  They may get along great now, but I speak from experience that when it comes to dividing up your stuff after you are gone, all bets are off.  This is reason number one that you should consider naming a professional trustee.

If you’re like most, you have probably named a family member as your trustee – and likely one of your adult children.  When you think of a trustee as the “enforcer” of a legal document, it becomes apparent why this might not be the greatest idea.  Think back to when your children were young: what happens when one of them gets a little too bossy, or isn’t sharing like he or she should?  Undoubtedly you’ve heard your children exclaim “you’re not the boss of me!” or “he/she’s not playing fair!” and this is likely in response to something as innocent playing a game or sharing a toy.  Now, consider what would happen if that one child was the only thing standing between your other children, their inheritance and your personal effects (i.e. jewelry, antiques, art, etc.).  As you can imagine, this is not the greatest position to put your family in.

In addition to immediately making the family member “Enemy Number One,” the other downside is that your family member likely has a full time job and limited time, experience, and/or resources to dedicate to the job of being trustee.  Did you know that there are a number of legal requirements a trustee must follow?  Did you know that there are deadlines that a trustee must meet? If you have investments, is your child a savvy investor able to manage those assets? Acting as a trustee is time consuming, complex, and carries with it legal responsibilities.

Having spent my first few years out of law school drafting Wills and Trusts, and now enforcing those documents, I have witnessed a variety of family dynamics.  It does not matter how well the family got along during the parent’s lifetime, or the amount of money the family has, when going through this extremely emotional time people get angry and offended very easily.  A child may remember how a sibling got more financial help from you, or that you promised an heirloom to him or her (but didn’t write it down), and then the fighting begins.  Who do you want your family mad at – each other, or a trustee that doesn’t share a table at the holidays?!

To avoid hard feelings between family members, and to take the stress of this complex and time consuming role off of your family, consider naming Legacy Trust as your trustee.  If you would like to hear more or have questions, contact us at today!

For more information, you can also refer to this Wall Street Journal article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/who-should-you-trust-to-oversee-a-family-trust-1421340638?KEYWORDS=family+trust