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Trust administration may be best left to professionals

When a person in Ft. Myers creates an estate plan, he or she may have chosen a successor trustee, a health care agent and an executor of their estate. These are all important roles that could make the difference between an estate plan that runs smoothly both during the person's lifetime and after their death, and an estate plan that is fraught with confusion and fights between a person's loved ones.

It may be tempting to simply name your first-born adult child to all these roles. However, just because that person is your child does not mean he or she is necessarily well-suited to be an executor or trustee. For example, if the adult child makes poor financial decisions with regards to his or her own money, it is likely that he or she would make poor financial decisions with your money as well.

In addition, when it comes to any of these roles, it is important that the person assigned to the role is truthful, reasonably organized and can be diplomatic when faced with other family members who are at odds with one another. For example, it takes diplomacy and trust to get all the beneficiaries of a trust to decide together to waive an accounting. Without the necessary diplomacy and trust, a beneficiary may feel they are being cheated and may go to the extent of hiring his or her own attorney.

Because of family dynamics, sometimes it is preferable to have a trust company, bank or professional fiduciary to take on the role of executor of your estate or successor trustee. Family and friends may simply be unqualified to take on such responsibilities and moreover, they may be too emotionally attached to maintain the neutrality needed when it comes to trust administration and estate administration. Those with questions about who to designate as executor or trustee can work with an estate planning attorney, who can provide honest feedback about a person's choices.

Source: Napa Valley Register, "Estate plan mistakes to avoid," April 13, 2017

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