Occasionally we have clients come into our office who know exactly how they want their estates distributed, know exactly how they want their healthcare decisions to be made, and know exactly who should raise their minor children if something happens to them. There is just one thing missing – they do not have a friend or relative that they would be comfortable putting in charge of the process.
The successful implementation of an estate plan depends on having someone named as successor trustee whom you can – well, trust.
We all love our families and friends. This, however, does not automatically mean that we think they are the best people to take over management of our financial affairs if we become incapacitated, or that they are the ones we would like to handle the distribution of our assets after we die. Simply choosing a bank or trust company to fill that role may seem like a viable option, but that choice has drawbacks as well. Specifically, large institutions often will not agree to act as trustee of an estate with less than several million dollars in liquid assets. They do not usually want to manage any real estate, especially a family home, and they would prefer to invest the trust assets into their own products. For these reasons, in our practice we rarely see a bank or financial institution happily and successfully carrying out the role of trustee. So, what can someone do if there is no suitable family member or friend, and a bank or trust company is not a good fit?
California has a solution.
California is somewhat unique in that we have a specific profession in this state called the California Licensed Professional Fiduciary. People who hold that license are regulated by the state, must satisfy certain continuing education requirements, and are often better positioned to handle trusts for families when the time comes than anyone else because doing that is exactly their main area of expertise. Additionally, the costs for such a fiduciary are often lower than other alternatives, and of course there is generally no cost at all until the fiduciary actually is needed to take over and begin acting as your successor.
The end result is that if would otherwise benefit from having a trust, there is no reason to put off that decision simply because you can't think of anyone to name as trustee. If you think it may be time to put your trust-based estate plan into effect, we can certainly discuss the option of using a California Licensed Professional Fiduciary to see if it makes sense for your circumstances. Feel free to give us a call for your complimentary estate planning consultation at your convenience at 619-589-1112.
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