Trust Management By Committee: Should I Make My Children Co-Trustees?

Most people name themselves (and/or their spouse) as the initial trustees of their living trust. You’ll need to name successor trustees to manage the trust when you’re no longer able to. Since a successor trustee should be someone you trust, many people choose a child. But what happens if you have several children?

In some cases, one child may be the clear choice for any number of reasons—they’re more responsible or maybe they live nearby. If you think more than one child could do a good job, you can always list them in order: your daughter living in Green Bay may be first choice, but other children living further away can be alternatives.

Issues arise when a person names their children co-trustees. There are some advantages to this. They can rely on each other for support and share the burdens of managing a trust. But co-trustees can also lead to big problems, especially if they can’t get along. All decisions will be made by committee and, generally, each trustee will need to sign off on important documents. Even if the co-trustees do cooperate, it can take longer for decisions to get made simply because more people are involved.

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