Is it wise to name more than 1 trustee?

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When creating a trust, it is important to carefully consider who serves as the trustee. As your estate and the trust’s contents grow more complex, the duties of the trustee grow in significance as well, as may the temptation to misuse the authority granted to trustees. To combat this potential temptation, and to spread around the duties associated with serving as a trustee, some people choose to name more than one trustee. This comes with its own set of benefits and potential complications.

In general, there a few limits to the number of trustees you may choose to serve your needs, but when many trustees all serve in the same or similar capacity at once, things tend to get more, not less, problematic.

In part, this is due to the difficulty of granting multiple parties the authority to make decisions on your behalf. By the time you address the issue, it can end up feeling like you are a kid stuck in a custody battle between two parents who want to serve their own interests over your own.

Even if you can secure the services of trustees who uphold their duties fairly and do not create conflicts with each other or abuse their powers, naming multiple trustees can prove very expensive. Trustees generally do not perform the service out of the kindness of their hearts, but rather receive some form of payment. In this way, naming too many trustees may drain your resources heavily, even if they all do their jobs very well.

In most circumstances, it is wiser to name a single trustee whom you truly trust to handle your property fairly, and name one or two successor trustees who can step in to the first trustee’s position if matters get out of hand. Be sure to carefully consider all your options to ensure that you fully protect your rights and interests while caring for your estate.

Source: FindLaw, “How Many Trustees Can a Trust Have?,” accessed March 30, 2018

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