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Comparing trustee choices considerations

Comparing Trustee Choices

Your choices of trustee or successor trustee may include a family member or friend, professional advisor such as an attorney or CPA, or a corporate trustee. Each choice offers specific advantages and disadvantages. It may be helpful for you to consider these choices in the context of the duties of the trustee and the desired qualities outlined below.

Trustee Choice



Trustee must either perform or contract for services required by the trust.
Family Member Contracts for legal, accounting, investment and other services
Professional Advisor (Attorney or CPA Administers own area of discipline; contracts for other services


Must services bundled in "turn-key" package; contracts others

Ability &
Readiness to serve

Potential trustees cannot foresee personal situations. A Trustee's duties may extend for many years and span generations
Family Member Risk of personal conflicts or preceding you in death
Professional Advisor (Attorney or CPA Risk of personal conflicts, retirement or preceding you in death


Established specifically to provide continuous service; potential for some organizational risk


Varies in manner similar to duties.
Family Member Not usually their area of expertise
Professional Advisor (Attorney or CPA May not be an area of expertise


Core business function; professionally trained


May span a wide range based on specific trustee
Family Member Varies by individual background
Professional Advisor (Attorney or CPA Likely to have significant experience in own area of discipline, administrative skill less certain


Provides professional staff that possesses trust experience and skills

Free of Conflicts

Trustee's interests may conflict with beneficiaries.
Family Member May have specific conflicts if also named as a beneficiary a common source of discord among siblings
Professional Advisor (Attorney or CPA As Administrator, may make decisions involving payments for own professional services and have other family roles


Unbiased interpretation of trust document and administration

Family Member

Professional Advisor


Other Trust Considerations

Other considerations such as the type of trust you set up, the purpose of the trust and the size and assets included in the trust should be taken into account when choosing between an individual, professional or corporate trustee.

The Trust will pay out immediately upon the grantor's death
The Trust will continue for a number of years    
The grantor needs an unbiased trustee during incapacity  
Trust is a charitable trust or foundation  
Trust is under $200,000  
Trust is between $200,000 and $500,000  
trust is over $500,000    
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