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How Do You Choose a Trustee?


Choosing the Right Trustee: A Key Decision in Estate Planning

Choosing a trustee is one of the most important decisions in establishing a trust. A trustee plays a pivotal role in managing trust assets, ensuring compliance with legal requirements, and fulfilling fiduciary duties to beneficiaries. The right trustee can make a significant difference in the success and effectiveness of the trust, while the wrong choice may lead to potential conflicts and mismanagement of assets. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the factors to consider when selecting a trustee and explore different trustee options to help you make an informed decision in your estate planning journey.

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Understanding the role of a trustee

Before we begin, let’s talk about the key responsibilities and duties of a trustee. A trustee is appointed to administer the trust according to its terms and the grantor’s wishes. Their primary duties include:

Asset Management: A trustee is responsible for prudently managing trust assets, making investment decisions, and ensuring the preservation and growth of the assets for the benefit of beneficiaries.

Record Keeping: Maintaining accurate records and accounts of all trust transactions and providing regular reports to beneficiaries.

Distribution of Assets: Distributing trust assets to beneficiaries in accordance with the trust document’s provisions and the grantor’s instructions.

Communication: Keeping beneficiaries informed about the trust’s performance, any changes in the trust’s administration, and addressing their questions and concerns.

Legal Compliance: Ensuring the trust’s compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Factors to consider when choosing a trustee

As we mentioned earlier, choosing the appropriate trustee is a critical choice in estate planning, one that can greatly influence the trust’s overall success and effectiveness.  Choosing a trustee requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure that the appointed individual or entity is the best fit for the responsibilities ahead. Here are some of the key factors to consider when choosing a trustee, which will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your long-term objectives and safeguard the interests of your beneficiaries.

Trustworthiness and Integrity

Integrity is the foundation of any successful trustee-beneficiary relationship. A trustee must be someone you trust implicitly, as they will have substantial authority over the assets and beneficiaries. Look for a trustee with a reputation for honesty, transparency, and ethical conduct.

Financial Acumen and Expertise

Managing trust assets requires financial expertise and investment knowledge. Choose a trustee who is well-versed in financial matters, capable of making informed decisions, and adept at managing investments wisely.

Understanding of Your Wishes and Values

A trustee must understand and respect your intentions and values as outlined in the trust document. They should be committed to carrying out your wishes and ensuring that the trust’s objectives align with your long-term goals.

Impartiality and Fairness

If your trust has multiple beneficiaries, ensure the trustee is capable of treating all beneficiaries fairly and impartially. They should avoid favoritism and be adept at handling potential conflicts that may arise.

Responsiveness and Communication Skills

Effective communication is key to maintaining trust and transparency. Select a trustee who is approachable, responsive, and willing to keep beneficiaries informed about trust matters and financial performance.

Availability and Longevity

Consider the trustee’s availability and ability to serve as a trustee over the long term. Trusts can last for several years, so choosing someone who can fulfill their duties for an extended period is vital.

Familiarity with Local Laws and Regulations

Different jurisdictions have varying legal requirements for trusts. If your trust operates in a specific region, consider selecting a trustee familiar with the relevant local laws and regulations.

Options for Choosing a Trustee

Knowing what a trustee needs to do and some of the skills and other factors that make a good trustee gives you a great basis for choosing a trustee. People choose trustees from family, friends, and professionals. What’s right for you?

Family Members or Friends

Many individuals choose close family members or trusted friends as trustees due to their intimate knowledge of the family dynamics and values. Family trustees may have a deep understanding of the beneficiaries’ needs and can administer the trust with a personal touch. However, it’s essential to assess their financial acumen and ability to remain impartial.

Professional Trustees

Professional trustees, such as banks, trust companies, and law firms, offer expertise in trust administration and investment management. They have experience dealing with complex financial matters, legal compliance, and resolving potential conflicts among beneficiaries. While professional trustees typically charge fees for their services, their impartiality and expertise can provide peace of mind to grantors and beneficiaries alike.


Combining the strengths of family members or friends with the expertise of a professional trustee is an option through co-trusteeship. This arrangement allows for checks and balances, ensuring both personalized care and professional administration of trust assets.

Putting it all together

Choosing the right trustee is a crucial step in effective estate planning and trust administration. By evaluating factors such as trustworthiness, financial acumen, understanding of your wishes, and communication skills, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your long-term objectives. 

Whether you opt for a family member, a professional trustee, or a combination of both, selecting a trustee who can diligently manage and preserve your assets will ensure the successful execution of your trust and the well-being of your beneficiaries for years to come. 

And remember—estate planning can be a complex process. It’s essential to consult with an   estate planning attorney or a trust professional who can help you make the best decision for your circumstances.

About Norway Savings Asset Management

At Norway Savings Asset Management Group, we manage trusts and investments for people like you. We’re more than just financial advisors—we’re family fiduciaries—which means we’re both legally and ethically bound to put your interests first. We take the responsibility of safeguarding your assets incredibly seriously. We’re here to make sure your story lives on.

*This article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice.