Mesa AZ | How Do I Choose a Trustee for My Estate?

I am often asked, how do I choose a trustee for my estate? A trustee is an individual or a financial institution or other entity that takes responsibility for administering a trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries designated in the trust.  The duties of a trustee can range depending on your specific needs. Some of the most common duties of a trustee include overseeing trust property, ensuring that investments are managed properly, paying bills, making tax payments and administering  the trust in accordance with its provisions.

Trustee Responsibilities

Your trustee will have a fiduciary duty to manage the trust on your behalf or the beneficiaries’ behalf.  For this reason, it is important to select the right person or institution for this role. Since trusts are commonly used with the goal of providing for children or other family members with special needs, it is essential to choose a trustee that you can count on in this role. Individuals with special needs, for example, may require extensive help with oversight with respect to their health, education, property and financial management. Trusts can also be used to ensure that a beneficiary who may be a spendthrift is limited as far as how much he or she can spend.

The job of a trustee is not quick or easy.  Depending on the trust provisions, a trustee may need to serve for several years with regular engagement with the beneficiaries of the trust.  The  trustees and successive trustees should be chosen only after careful consideration.   Although the trustee does not need to have advanced financial or legal knowledge, they do need to be someone that you trust implicitly.

How to Introduce the Idea of Trust Management

While serving as a trustee can be a heavy responsibility, it’s a good idea to have a candid conversation about your goals with the trustee.  You may want to first consult with a potential trustee to find out if he or she would be willing to assume such responsibilities at a future date.    A trustee may charge a reasonable fee for its services in administering the Trust.  The Trustee’s fee is paid out of assets of the Trust estate.

In certain instances the hiring of a trust company to serve as a trustee of the trust may make sense.  In instances were distributions of trust property to beneficiaries are based on a discretionary standard,  sometimes a trust company is better suited to make those decisions than perhaps a family member of the beneficiary.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding How Do I Choose a Trustee for My Estate?, or any other estate planning matters, please feel free to contact Stephen L. West at 480.461.5341,or Curtis M. Chipman at 480.461.5329. You can also log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.