More than two-thirds of Americans have no estate plan, and most of those who do have only a basic will. If you believe that your estate plan should include a trust as a supplement or an alternative to a will, choosing a trustee may feel overwhelming. Fortunately, working with an estate planning lawyer helps make sense of the process and ensures that all of your bases are covered.

Sound Judgment

You’re putting your faith in the trustee that they will make sound judgments on your behalf both during your lifetime and after you pass away. The trustee should be able to make decisions that align with your morals, values, and beliefs. If the trustee isn’t informed about a particular subject, they should be able to admit that and find a professional who will assist them.

Regular Availability

During the first year or more after your death, the administration process could take up a lot of the trustee’s time. Choose a trustee who has sufficient availability to complete what is required. You may also want to select a trustee who lives in the community and can attend court hearings as needed.


As the grantor of the trust, your age shouldn’t be too close to the trustee’s age. Choose a trustee whose life expectancy is long enough to cover the duration of the trust. Picking someone who will hopefully live in good health for long enough to fulfill the requirements of the trust ensures that your wishes are carried out as planned.

Wise Decision Maker

After your death, your beneficiaries may argue, disagree or dispute your wishes. They may turn against each other and accuse the trustee of favoritism. You’ll need a trustee who is an impartial, fair, and wise decision-maker. The trustee should not take these disputes among them personally. In many cases, choosing a corporate trustee who is not a friend or family member ensures that their decisions will be unbiased.

Excellent Communication Skills

The trustee will need to communicate with your estate planning lawyer, court staff, judges, and your beneficiaries. The trustee will need to maintain a sense of calm, especially if your beneficiaries argue or accuse the the trustee of bias. Avoid choosing a trustee who is overbearing or who is easily intimidated by others. 

Attention to Detail

Trustees are held accountable by the court for all of their actions. In order for them to properly carry out their legal duties, they must have attention to detail. The trustee should also be well-organized and able to maintain a clear record and paper trail of their actions. They should be experienced with documenting what they have done and maintaining records that can be reviewed in case they are accused of improper or irresponsible behavior.

Experience in Asset Management

When you have a considerable amount of assets, choosing a trustee with experience in these types of matters facilitates the management of your investments. If your ideal candidate has all the other qualities of a good trustee but lacks asset management experience, they should be willing to work with a professional to handle that aspect of the task.
Choosing a trustee requires some research and forward thinking. The right trustee ensures that the corpus of the trust will be managed in accordance with your personal preferences, beliefs, and values. By working with an estate planning lawyer to create your trust document and select a trustee, you can enjoy more peace of mind. For more information about what to look for in a trustee, reach out to the Hackensack office of The Knee Law Firm by phone at 201-996-1200. You may also request a consultation with an estate planning attorney by completing this short contact form, and an associate will contact you to set up an appointment.