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Who should I name as trustee?

A trustee is an institution or person who is the legal owner of the property held by the trust and who is responsible for using the trust property for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust document. The trustee can be held personally liable if those duties are breached.

You may select one trustee or multiple trustees, depending on your needs. Who you name as trustee will depend on the type of trust you establish and your individual needs and goals.

Generally, you want the trustee to be capable of administering the trust according to the terms of the trust document. In addition to the willingness to serve as trustee, the person or institution selected may need to have investment experience and good record-keeping abilities. You may also want a trustee who relates well with the beneficiaries and is sensitive and flexible regarding their changing needs.

Sometimes, the creators of trusts, known as grantors, like to name themselves as trustee. However, there are two situations where this is inadvisable:

  • Where the grantor is also the sole beneficiary of the trust
  • Where an irrevocable trust has been created for the primary purpose of minimizing income and estate taxes