4 Must-Know Considerations Before You Select a Professional Trustee Service

Select a Professional Trustee Service

Most people delay finalizing their estate management paperwork simply because of the struggle associated with finding a reliable trustee. A trustee plays a crucial role in effective estate management and fair inheritance distribution among deserving beneficiaries.

Trustees are legally appointed owners and managers of assets and properties within a trust. They have the authority to fulfill the purposes and obligations of the trust on behalf of the deceased. 

Finding a competent, legally adept, and financially savvy trustee who will manage trust affairs with empathy and prudence is important.

Objectivity is of the utmost significance here, so appointing a family member is unwise. Most people consider their spouses and siblings the most reliable and worthy candidates. 

But what if your sister struggles with managing her monthly income, and your spouse has accumulated a sizable debt?

You don’t want to entrust your financial affairs and the future of your beneficiaries to someone who struggles with their own financial management. Read on to learn more about selecting the right professional trustee service. 

1. Prioritize Trustworthiness and Transparency 

As the name implies, trustworthiness is the most vital trait in a competent and pragmatic trustee. If you cannot trust a person with the safekeeping of $1,000, you certainly don’t want to entrust them with your estate.

You need to find a highly qualified and skilled financial advisor known for being financially astute and savvy with money management. 

It is highly advisable to seek professional trustee services specializing in asset management, investment advisory, and legal solutions. We recommend Wealth Enhancement Trust Services for its wide range of financial and legal services.

Their experienced estate planning attorneys specialize in providing the best possible solutions for managing your assets and helping to ensure your wealth is properly and securely distributed according to your wishes.

Here are some questions you should keep in mind while conducting research:

  • What kind of financial management services/skills can the professional provide?
  • What kind of asset management and investment solutions has the firm provided to its existing clients?
  • How are the firm’s market reputation and relations with existing clients and their beneficiaries?
  • Has the firm or professional ever been embroiled in a legal scandal involving claims from disgruntled beneficiaries/heirs?
  • How is the firm or individual managing their own financial affairs, asset portfolios, and wealth?
  • Is the firm or individual struggling with financial challenges or living paycheck to paycheck?
  • Is the service provider competent enough to invest your assets and increase your wealth to multiply benefits for your beneficiaries?
  • Will the professional adapt to your family’s dynamics and establish a relationship of trust with your spouse, children, and other beneficiaries?

2. Professionalism & Relationship-Building Skills 

It is wise to consider both the trustee’s financial and legal expertise and empathy and relationship-building skills. Remember, conflicts between trustees and beneficiaries/heirs are common, especially when resentment seeps into the dynamic. 

Conflicts typically arise over matters of financial compensation, with both sides resenting one another for their financial advantages. Trustees can resent beneficiaries for their entitlement to financial benefits, and beneficiaries can resent trustees for their compensation. 

The most effective way to prevent such conflicts is to hire an experienced and seasoned professional who is trustworthy and pragmatic.

Professionals with a vibrant community presence and extensive client portfolio will not compromise their integrity and reputation. They are driven to uphold standards of professionalism and operate within the confines of their legal duties. 

3. Scrutinize Trustee Duties & Obligations 

Before you finalize your candidate, reflecting on the duties you want this entity or individual to perform is important. As a trustee, serving requires a diverse skillset with multifaceted experience in managing financial paperwork and asset portfolios. 

All individuals have unique asset portfolios and strategies to ensure financial independence for their loved ones. No one-fits-all solutions exist for estate planning, and scrutinizing duties and obligations ensures clarity and transparency. 

Typically, trustees are responsible for the following duties:

  • Preparing and maintaining financial documents and cash flow management
  • Managing income and estate taxes
  • Real estate management, selling, and wealth generation 
  • Property maintenance 
  • Selling and securing estate assets/properties 
  • Appraising capital and personal assets, such as artwork, jewelry, property, vehicles, etc. 
  • Debt settlement and handling creditors
  • Communicating with beneficiaries and fulfilling their financial needs
  • Investing on behalf of the beneficiaries/deceased
  • Maintaining transparent records of all activities concerning the trust account or estate

The exact nature of trustee duties depends on the type of assets and wealth within the portfolio. But generally speaking, trustees spend significant time managing financial affairs and communicating with beneficiaries.

They mediate between the beneficiaries and various entities and institutions, including financial institutions, creditors, the government, and courts. 

4. Accessibility and Availability

Even the most competent and seasoned estate managers who serve as trustees struggle to manage all their obligations. Between work and family, it can prove hard for a trustee to cater to all time-sensitive requests made by beneficiaries.

It is important to set healthy boundaries, but your chosen professional must respond enthusiastically and timely. Accessibility and availability rank among the most indispensable traits, and overlooking them can lead to unprecedented challenges. 

Trust management requires critical decision-making, and most of these decisions are time-sensitive. It is pertinent to understand that the element of accessibility and availability extends beyond being attentive to your family.

It reflects on every aspect of estate management. Will this professional manage all your affairs and critical decisions efficiently, pragmatically, and timely?

Remember that the trustee must manage various aspects of your family’s well-being and estate. Aside from asset distribution, trustees are also responsible for the beneficiaries’ education, health, financial well-being, and overall maintenance.

It is common for beneficiaries to communicate with trustees regularly, relying on their advice and support for day-to-day affairs.

Final Thoughts 

Let’s examine a scenario to reflect on the beneficiary-trustee relationship. Suppose one of your heirs requires immediate financial assistance for a time-sensitive medical emergency.

In that case, the trustee must ensure effective communication and facilitate financial assistance by ensuring timely asset distribution. 

Your chosen trustee will manage the financial, legal, and social intricacies of your family’s affairs and long-term plans. It is important to find someone passionate about their role and eager to fulfill their responsibilities effectively.

We strongly advise against rushing through the process of finding a competent and reliable trustee for your estate. You may feel pressed for time due to an overwhelming illness or other reasons, but rushing through can prove disastrous. Take your time to conduct in-depth interviews, consult multiple advisors and experts and prioritize research. 

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