If you're preparing to put your estate plan in place, you're taking an important step that many people put off until it's too late. You'll have a number of crucial decisions to make as you work with your Tennessee attorney to create your plan.
One of the most significant decisions involves choosing the people who will administer your estate after you're gone or if you become incapacitated and unable to take care of your affairs.
It's important to understand the difference in the roles that executors and trustees play. An executor manages and settles the estate after the grantor has passed away. This involves dealing with probate issues.
If you're setting up one or more trusts, you'll need to appoint a trustee. This is the person who will handle the assets in the trust, including their distribution.
Executors and trustees are tasked with following the wishes of the person whose estate or trusts they are managing as they've detailed in their estate plan. Therefore, you want to choose people who are reliable, trustworthy and up to the task. Here are a couple of things you want in any executor or trustee:
Someone with common sense who exercises good judgment
They don't need to be financial, tax or business experts. However, they need to be willing to seek help from experienced professionals if it's needed. As one estate planning attorney says, "I like people who aren't afraid to research and ask for help, not know-it-alls who think they don't need help."
Someone who will be around when the time comes
You may have a sibling who's perfect for the job. However, if they're older than you or not in good health, they may not outlive you or be able to handle the responsibilities of the job if they do.
If you still want to appoint this person, consider naming a successor or a co-executor or co-trustee. Otherwise, you can always update your estate plan if something happens to your designated executor or trustee. You may also consider naming a corporate trustee.
The designation of executors and trustees isn't a popularity contest. Don't be afraid that you'll hurt someone's feelings if you don't name them. It's beneficial to all of your loved ones if the people administering your estate are honest, responsible and qualified. Your attorney can provide valuable guidance as you make these and other decisions.