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Tips for choosing a trustee

There are many reasons why Virginia estate holders may want to create trusts. One major reason may be for the avoidance of probate. You may also want to state the terms of the distribution to your beneficiaries as opposed to them receiving all your assets outright at once.

The trust creator can specify if access to the trust or distributions will change when heirs reach a certain milestone or age. A distribution may happen all at once or over time.

Choosing a Trustee for the Trust is one of the most important decisions.  You can choose a family member, friend, or a neutral party such as a trust department of a financial institution. Choosing a family member may be a good idea because the family member will be familiar with the estate holder's wishes and the family dynamic.  A problem that can arise is if the family member is too close to the beneficiary and may let the beneficiary influence the distributions. Additionally, being a Trustee does require effective management, and doing so may require legal and financial expertise, so they may choose to hire an attorney or accountant to assist in the management of the Trust.  Another option might be to appoint a professional as trustee; however, the drawback here could be a lack of familiarity with the family.  However, an advantage to having a professional Trustee is that most trust departments at a financial institution have a whole team of individuals working on behalf of the trust.

Trusts may also have other advantages such as protecting assets from creditors or spouses in case of divorce. A person who is creating an estate plan should get advice from an attorney. It is also important to review the estate plan, including any trusts, regularly to ensure that the document is still meeting your intended goals.

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