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When No Family Member or Friend Can Manage Your Trust: What Should You Do?

Assuming you forgot to name someone else as your “backup” or second choice as trustee, you may now need to consider hiring a corporate trustee. Before taking this route, be sure that there’s no one else in your immediate circle of friends or family who might be willing to handle this task for you. If no other alternate person is available, ask your closest friends and business associates to recommend the name of a trustworthy corporate trustee.                                                    If you cannot obtain a reliable referral, contact a reputable trust company or bank trust department in your city and see who they might recommend. Consider also contacting your local Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been filed against any individuals or trust groups that you may want to avoid. Once you have the names of several individuals who might be qualified to act as your trustee, review the following questions which should help you choose the best one for your needs.

Important Inquiries When Searching for a Good Corporate Trustee

  • Ask if the individual or group has a minimum size trust account that they are willing to handle. This will save everyone involved considerable time since many trustees will only handle very large trusts that allow them to charge higher fees;
  • After selecting a main trustee, find out who will serve as the backup person whenever your regular trustee is out of town. While it’s always preferable to deal with just one individual, it’s important to remember that many people travel often. One advantage a larger trust department or trust company offers is that there should always be someone available to step in and handle your account needs when your usual trustee(s) are away;
  • Ask how long the group or trust department has been managing trust accounts like yours. Also inquire if only the more experienced attorneys or trust account professionals will handle your needs, even though more junior employees work there. This may cost you a little extra to have the more experienced person handling your account, but it may also help you avoid unnecessary errors;
  • Ask for a fee schedule. Make sure you understand exactly what you’ll be charged and how you can should interpret each monthly statement you’ll be receiving. Also find out if your trustee (or the group) will handle filing the tax returns tied to each of your trust accounts;
  • Find out how they go about choosing investments for your trust account and make sure they’re planning to abide by all of your stated requirements for obtaining your prior approval;
  • Make sure you’re comfortable interacting with each trustee you’ll be meeting with on a regular basis. If you don’t like them when you first meet them – chances are things may become even more tense once actual investment decisions have to be made;
  • Give serious thought to only turning over minor trust assets to the new trustee or group at first, so you can carefully evaluate the quality of their services. Once you’re fully happy with how they’re interacting with you, you can begin turning over control of all of your assets to them – in keeping with your detailed, written instructions.

To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia