What If I Don’t Have a Trustee?
Updated: Jun 24
As we’ve written about before, a trustee is a person you place in charge of being the legal custodian for the assets held in your Trust. Obviously, this is a very important decision in your estate planning strategy, as this person will be the one to carry out your wishes after you die or are unable to do so on your own. Most people quickly defer to a family member, their children, a co-trustee such as their spouse, or a trusted friend to fill that role. But what if those aren’t an option?
What if you don’t have a trustee?
On paper, this seems like a horrible position to be placed into and one that is very rare. After all, nearly everyone has someone close to them that they can rely on to carry out their wishes after they die. But every once in a while, we have a situation where a client doesn’t have children who are old enough or trustworthy enough to handle such a job.
They could also want to avoid having one family member be trustee for another. Depending on family dynamics, this could cause strain between family members and clients rightfully think about that when planning.
What do you do then? One thing is for sure — you still need a trustee for your Trust. There’s really no ifs, ands, or buts about it. A trustee plays a critical role in ensuring everything is handled when you’re gone. Their duties include:
• Managing and administering the finances of a Trust
• Recording expenses and income
• Distributing funds to beneficiaries
• Paying any final or ongoing bills
• Filing taxes and tax reports on any income the Trust makes
• Keeping records of other transactions
Here’s what you do if you don’t have a trustee
Don’t fret if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have a trustee for your Trust. A worthwhile option to consider is to hire a trust department or investment firm to assume this role. This is a great option to have a neutral third-party entity manage your trust for your beneficiaries.
And the best part is that they are sworn to abide by the rules set forth in your Trust. They cannot go rogue or disperse funds where they see fit. They can only act in accordance with the Trust documents.
With that said, you’ll want to act carefully. Interview the proposed trust department or investment firm so that you fully understand their processes, fees, rules, and limitations. Knowing this information, including if they only work with Trusts that exceed a certain dollar amount, beforehand ensures you don’t get stuck partnering with a firm that can’t meet your needs.
At Caitlyn Ashley Law we have worked with many wonderful professional trust departments and we are happy to provide you with a list so that you can interview potential trustees.
Call Caitlyn Ashley Law today!!
Having a plan for the future is the most important gift you can give yourself and your family. Granted, none of us will ever know for sure what is around every corner in life. And just thinking about the what-ifs — what if I were to die or become incapacitated tomorrow; what if my child with special needs has no one to care for her; what if all my “stuff” isn’t passed onto the right people — can be overwhelming. But having a plan that accounts for your family’s unique circumstances, puts your affairs in order, has concrete solutions to your concerns, lays out your wishes and goals, and protects your family’s future provides peace of mind for the road ahead.
Caitlyn Ashley Law in Denton, Texas, Will counsel you on which documents are best suited for your needs and ensure they are flexible enough to meet your changing needs for years to come.