Selecting your Trustee - Tasks and Attributes

Selecting your Trustee - Tasks and Attributes

Article posted in Practice on 23 July 2014| 1 comments
audience: National Publication, Daniel P Felix - The Professional Trustee | last updated: 29 July 2014


Dan Felix takes a deeper look at the need for a responsive and active trustee. The refinement of the trustees role, the need for responsiveness and wise guidance make it clear that trustee selection is as important as good trust creation.

By Dan Felix

The foundational tasks of trust administration relate to asset management, investment and distribution. Performing these tasks can include the skills and attributes of being: loyal, meticulous, intelligent, responsive, trustworthy and prudent.

Also consider how responsive and available do you want the trustee to be, especially for the calls from you, your beneficiaries and for deadline-specific tasks.

Building on the above foundation is the human work in helping the trust to empower your beneficiaries to lead better lives because of the various financial and legacy assets provided by you, the trust-maker. So while you are appointing a trustee for yourself, the trustee may also serve for your spouse, your children and other beneficiaries. Do the trustee’s goals include the development of the independent judgment and prudence of your beneficiaries, or is he indifferent to producing an infantile trust baby? The skills and attributes for making the relationship work can include being: an educator, facilitator, and mentor – someone who is high in emotional and human intelligence.

Another element may be continuity – who replaces the trustee and when. The trust itself can set out a succession plan, and sometimes permits someone – the trustee or the trust protector or the beneficiaries – to name a replacement. There is also the sub issue of corporate continuity versus personal continuity – that is, whether the actual living human being you meet is going to continue in that role, be replaced by a co-worker, whom you do not know, as opposed to by someone whom the beneficiaries have helped select & groom.

To what extent is the trustee committed to excellence? Is he willing to undergo periodic review? Is he open to stepping down if his performance is inadequate?

And then there is cost. Are you getting what you pay for? Can free cost a lot?

In the end, trustees are not one-size-fits-all. Choosing who is appropriate for you deserves care and consideration. After all, the selection of who will be administering your personal concerns after you’re gone should give you peace of mind.

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Re: Selecting your Trustee - Tasks and Attributes

Well done Dan.

Although the public unfortunately often views the trustee through the narrow "administrative" lens, your article nicely paints the picture of what a mutually successful and enriching trustee / beneficiary relationship could be, while also putting forth thought provoking areas of inquiry in deciding "who" should serve in the privileged role of trustee.

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