Many individuals in Massachusetts may have participated in estate planning activities such as setting up wills or purchasing life insurance. Another thing to consider when planning end-of-life care or wealth disbursement to heirs is setting up a trust, and an essential part of that process is choosing an appropriate trustee.
A trustee is a person or agency that is responsible for administering the property of a trust. The trustee may come into play after the death of an individual when a trust within an estate becomes active. In this case, the trustee may be tasked with managing the assets within the trust and appropriately disbursing monetary amounts to heirs as the trust and estate planning documents dictate.
Post-death trusts are helpful when you are leaving assets to minors or individuals who are incapacitated in some way that makes it unlikely they will manage wealth wisely. Trusts might also be set up to manage charity-related funds.
A trustee could also be used to handle your wealth when you are in later life stages. You could set up a trust to protect your wealth if you are medically or mentally incapacitated or just to reduce the chance that your wealth is impacted by creditors or taxes.
It’s important to note the level of responsibility required of a trustee. Individuals should choose trustees who are impartial enough to carry out duties with utmost integrity. Trustees are only permitted to profit from their position if the trust itself allows for a monetary payment to the trustee for his or her duties, but there have been many cases where trustees dip into funds inappropriately. By working with an estate planning professional, you can develop strong trust controls and work to find a trustee you can rely on.
Source: Investopedia, “Trustee” accessed Mar. 20, 2015
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