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Criteria for choosing a family member as fiduciary

While previous posts on this blog have mentioned that Houston, Texas, residents have the option of hiring a bank or other institution to act as a professional fiduciary, executor, or trustee, in most cases, Texans are going to rely on a close family member or friend who is like family to manage their property.

This is true whether a person is simply nominating a relative to administer their will or their trust upon their death or choosing someone to start helping them with their business affairs immediately via a power of attorney.

Choosing who in the family should serve in such an important role is a difficult choice that requires a lot of thought during the estate planning process. It is very important not to let emotional considerations, like which child has been the "nicest," get in the way of such a decision, nor should the role automatically go to the oldest child or the child who lives closest to home.

There are some basic considerations one should take in to account when making these sorts of choices. For instance, a person should steer clear of family members who do not have a demonstrated track record of being financially responsible themselves. They do, however, need a proven and consistent history of having the person's best interests in the forefront of their minds, even when money is not in play. Also, a child or other relative who has obvious baggage with another family member or potential heir is not a good candidate.

Ideally, however, a person will discuss this very important decision with his or her estate planning attorney, as an attorney may be able to offer some objective insight in to facts and circumstances which otherwise might go unnoticed.

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