As many Texas residents know, trusts and wills are just two of the many estate planning tools available today. These documents, however, can control the distribution of assets after death and may be the only instructions available to your family and the court. When deciding the terms of these estate planning instruments, there are many factors to consider, including who will be best fit to manage them after your death.
A will is used in estate planning to designate a person or organization who will be the executor of the estate and also to detail the wishes of the deceased regarding the distribution of assets. A will can also be used to create a trust during the probate process. A testamentary trust may be used to pour all or some of the assets of an estate into a trust that is controlled by a designated trustee. The trustee is responsible for administering and distributing the trust as directed in the estate planning documents.
The trustee has many duties to the beneficiaries of the trust. Acting in good faith and in the best interests of the beneficiaries are just a few of the duties. The trustee also must act to represent the trust in any legal matters and enforce the claims of the trust when appropriate.
When a trust is created for the benefit of minor children, the assets are not always dispersed all at once. A person considering estate planning may wish to have the assets distributed at age 18 or may decide to disperse a portion of the assets at different ages. In either case, the trustee will be in charge of the disbursement and of maintaining the assets of the trust.
Choosing a trustee is an important part of estate planning in Texas. A person considering such a selection should review all of the duties of a trustee as they consider whether to choose a relative, another individual or an institution, such as a bank, that specializes in trust administration. Knowing the duties expected of the trustee will assist in making the best choice for your assets and for your beneficiaries.
Source: The Missourian, "Common Estate Planning Mistakes Failure to Use Testamentary Trusts," Walter A. Murray Jr., March 28, 2012