Who Can Be Trustee of My Living Trust?
When you establish a living trust, you name someone to be the trustee. The trustee basically does what you do right now with your financial affairs—collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, maintain accurate records, and generally keep your financial matters in good order.
You can be trustee of your own living trust. If you are married, your spouse can be trustee with you. Most married couples who own assets together, especially those who have been married for some time, are usually co-trustees. This way, if either of you become incapacitated or die, the other can continue to handle your financial affairs without interference from the court—one of the main reasons many people choose a living trust over a will.
However, you don’t have to be your own trustee. Some people choose an adult son or daughter, or a trusted friend or other relative. Some choose a professional or corporate trustee (like a bank trust department or trust company) for their experience and investment skills. This is often a good choice if you have no children or other trusted relatives living nearby, your other candidates do not have the time or ability to manage your trust, or if you do not have the time, desire or experience to manage your investments yourself.
You can also name someone other than your spouse (including a professional) to be co-trustee with you. This would eliminate the time a successor trustee would need to become knowledgeable about your trust, its assets, and the needs and personalities of your beneficiaries. It would also let you evaluate if this is the right choice to manage your trust in your absence.
Naming someone else as trustee or co-trustee does not mean you lose control. The trustee you name must follow the instructions in your trust and report to you. You can even replace your trustee if you change your mind.
About the author
Vickie Schumacher is the author of the best-selling book, Understanding Living Trusts®, and is nationally known for her ability to explain the benefits of living trusts and estate planning in clear, conversational English. She has a unique perspective on what consumers want, what they understand, and what motivates them when it comes to estate planning—because she is a consumer, too.