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The Plain English Attorney

One of the most important decisions you can make in estate planning is choosing the right trustees. A frequent question that comes up when speaking with my clients who have younger children is whether or not to name their own parents as trustees. They often believe that naming someone older than them is not a good idea. But is it? In this installment, I review the topic of age when thinking of trustees, as well as the one thing many attorneys fail to do.

“Well wait a minute. I’m naming the best three people to be trustees and they’re all older than me.”

Should You Name Parents As A Trustee

The more broad question is should you name people older than you as trustees? So here is the short answer, yeh why not if you’re following the same thinking that I have when I talk with my clients about naming trustees.

If you are looking at who is the best qualified to be the trustee, that should be the guiding start. Are they a person you trust? Do you trust them to make financial decisions? Do you think they will be appropriate in investing the money and working with a financial advisor? Do you think they will follow their advice and will they get the taxes done and just be a responsible person, well then sure.

What I hear all the time is “well they’re older and they’re going to die before we do.” That has a couple of assumptions in there that you really shouldn’t have in your mindset when thinking about this.

Don’t Go Into Estate Planning With This Mindset

Don’t go into an estate plan and think “I’m never going to have to redo this so I might as well get it right the first time.”

I can tell you that statistically, it’s about every five to seven years that my clients end up making changes. So you should keep that in mind as a time frame, five to seven years there might be some adjustments. They don’t necessarily have to be big ones.

Let’s say another child is born and suddenly they want to shift some things around cause the child may have some larger needs during life. Or the kids are older and one got scholarships for everything the other one didn’t and got a lot more money spent on them cause they went to private school. They want to make it up to the other one so they want to shift some percentages around.

A very common thing is one of those people who are listed as a trustee or even a health care agent, needs to be moved around because life changed. Either that or you don’t trust them anymore or they moved far away.

The number of people that came in who were in the military and the last will they had done was the one the military made them get and it is oh yeah it was a guy from my basic training unit and I thought we were going to be friends forever but we just drifted apart.

Look all that is fine. So you will be making some of these changes. At the time you are doing the planning with the projected timeline of five to seven years, do you think that parent or older person would be the best person for the job? Alright then go ahead and name them.

But this is where I differ from some attornies, who’s second. We need a backup person. And then even more so I’m different, I’m really pushing for a third option. “Oh gosh, the chances of that happening are pretty low.” Yes, they are pretty low but I can tell you in my practice, from the clients that have come back to us, we’ve gone through two people in that list but we haven’t gone through the third.

“Well wait a minute. I’m naming the best three people to be trustees and they’re all older than me.”

Watch the entire video to hear Attorney Marsocci goes out more than 7 years and items that might need to be changed.


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