A co-trustee can be helpful in the administration of an estate.
Revocable trusts can simplify the distribution of assets after death.
Often trustmakers (aka grantors) make themselves the trustees of revocable trusts while they are alive.
In addition to serving as trustees themselves, some individuals choose to appoint co-trustees.
According to a recent The Street article titled, “3 Things to Consider when Naming Co-Trustees,” naming a co-trustee should not be done lightly.
The first options many people consider for these roles are either a spouse or adult child.
Although your adult child may even recommend being added as a co-trustee as you begin sharing your estate plans with them, do not immediately agree to this proposal.
You will have to honestly evaluate the wisdom of naming your adult child as a co-trustee.
What questions should you ask yourself?
Does you adult child align with you on financial matters?
Perhaps you are conservative in your investing and use of money while your child is more aggressive and impulsive.
If your co-trustee differs significantly from you in these matters, you may find your assets used in ways you had not intended.
While you can fire co-trustees as the primary trustee, you may find this to cause damage to your relationship with your loved one.
Consequently, it may have been better not to include your adult child as a trustee.
Do the logistics make sense?
Although technology allows for communication across timezones and distances, there may still be complications associated with these factors.
If an in-person signature is required for actions to be taken, you could unintentionally delay important actions.
While you could include language in your trust allowing for one trustee to act independently from another, you may open the door to your adult child being able make choices you would not recommend.
Would your adult child serving as a co-trustee lead to estate plan revisions?
If only one adult child is named a co-trustee, you may want to edit your estate plan to make it more balanced and fair.
For example, you may want your other children to serve as health care and financial power of attorney agents.
Fairness should not be the most important factor in naming agents.
Rather, you should select the best candidates for the roles based on skills and ability.
Discuss your options carefully with your estate planning attorney.
If you determine a co-trustee is not be best option, you may be able to name your adult child as a successor trustee.
This would allow you to maintain full control of the trust while ensuring it is overseen by a trusted loved one when you become incapacitated or die.
There are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to estate planning.
Reference: The Street (Oct. 11, 2022) “3 Things to Consider when Naming Co-Trustees”