As parents make the difficult decision regarding who to appoint as trustee of their living trust, who do they generally appoint? Right, the oldest child. Why? Because they love her the most? Actually, the reasons are generally because of age, trust, love, and because it is expected. While some of those are important qualities to have in a family, alone they do not qualify a person to competently serve as the trustee of a trust. To put it bluntly, many family trustees are clueless about their roles. The results can be financially (and emotionally) disastrous to the entire family. When you hire a private professional fiduciary as a trustee, you get what you expect: a professional. These are reasons to consider recruiting a private professional fiduciary as trustee of your family trust:
- They have been educated in their role as trustee.
- They are familiar with the probate code concerning trust administration.
- They know their duties.
- They are licensed by the state of California.
- They carry professional liability insurance.
- They can be bonded for each client and case they serve.
- They are accountable for their actions.
- They administer the trust according to the trust document, eliminating any perception of unfairness or bias as sometimes happens with family members acting as trustees.
- The trust pays for their services, removing the often heavy burden a family trustee bears (generally without compensation), and which can lead to feelings of being exploited.
Professional fiduciaries have been down this road before. When they do run into new or confusing situations, they are represented by counsel specializing in these matters to whom they can turn for advice, and they have a whole network of professional associates to tap for assistance. Professional fiduciaries provide professional actions and professional reporting. Because they are licensed through the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau in the Department of Consumer Affairs, their clients have recourse if there is an issue. Do you really want to sue your brother if you think he has mishandled his role as trustee?