Appointing Estate Trustees

An Estate Trustee (formally Executor) has the responsibility to administer your estate from the time of death until all provisions contained within the will have been satisfied. It is important that you have the utmost confidence in those persons that you name as your Estate Trustee as they are responsible to protect your assets, implement the directions contained within the will, including the payment of all income taxes and other debts, and making certain that the named beneficiaries receive the benefit to which they are entitled.

Spouses of children are often named as Estate Trustees but in a more complicated society, especially with blended families, it may not be the appropriate selection. As much as possible, you should avoid naming Estate Trustees who are significantly older than yourself, particularly if part of your estate is going to be held in trust for minor children. It is also wise to name an alternate person, in case your first choice is unable to continue the task or predeceases you. If you have not done so and your Estate Trustee dies while looking after your estate, whomever they have named as the trustee of their estate could also become responsible for your estate as well.

When there are no appropriate family members or friends, a professional such as your lawyer or accountant may be willing to be your Estate Trustee. In the case of large estates (usually upwards of one million dollars), it may be appropriate to name a trust company as your Estate Trustee. However, these options should be regarded as last resorts as such advisors, you can expect, will charge your estate their normal professional fees for their work as your Estate Trustee, whereas family members and close friends will often charge very little or nothing at all, which leaves more of your estate available to distribute to your beneficiaries.