When it comes to getting everything settled for your will or that of a family member, it is always very important for our clients to get each detail just right, so that their wishes will be respected in the future. For those who are aiming to avoid the probate process in their estate’s distribution, there is a useful method in the revocable trust, which works outside of the courts in its’ establishment.
Dividing up assets can be a sticky business, especially when more than one trustee is involved in making decisions. If there are conflicts or disagreements as to how the property, money, or other assets should be distribute, it can get nasty quickly. In addition to disagreements between the trustees themselves, there can also be conflict between trustees and the beneficiaries of the trust. If, like most people, you balk at the thought of your beneficiaries squabbling in this way over your estate, there is a useful tool that can be found in establishing a special type of co-trustee over the estate. This is known as the trust protector.
The trust protector is a third trusted individual in the group who will be distributing the will who has the responsibility to interpret the trusts’ provisions for the distribution of assets. They are an individual who you the creator has deep faith in to make the best decisions for the estate in the long run. They may not have an active role throughout the trust’s administration, but will be readily available to mediate in the event of a conflict or a final opinion on some point of disagreement or interpretation of the estate documents.
One of the nice aspects to the trust protector is that it is a flexible position; the creator of the estate is able to designate exactly how much responsibility and power they feel the trust protector should be responsible in controlling. An example of one way that the trust protector could step in to mediate a dispute or be useful in another sense is if they would be able to follow steps towards minimizing a tax burden under changing laws.
When you are working to establish a trust protector position as a part of your revocable trust, it is important to keep in mind all of the other estate planning documents that are necessarily a part of the process. Establishing an individual to hold power of attorney is also an important step and responsibility to give to someone you trust. This will allow them to speak on your behalf for considerations of health and financial decisions, in the event that you, the creator, are unable to do so. Working with a wills and trusts attorney is a key step in guiding the principal towards this and the other key documents they must create.
Throughout your estate planning process, you should plan to work with a team of attorneys who know the industry inside and out. For expert advice and additional information on your particular case, get in touch with our team here at the Law Office of John L. Schettino. We can be reached by phone at 201-498-9768 and look forward to speaking with you shortly.