When you are putting your will together, you will be asked to choose a trustee to make the will final. This is not a decision that should be made lightly. You need to carefully consider your options when it comes to a trustee, make sure you get your candidate's approval before adding them to your will, and understand what your trustee will be responsible for after you have passed away.
A trustee is not a position that appears when you pass away and then disappears after probate is over. Your trustee will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf after you pass on, determining how your resources will go towards paying the bills of your estate, and settling arguments between beneficiaries in your will.
For example, if after paying all of your financial obligations there is not enough to pay your beneficiaries what they were promised, your trustee is the one who makes the final decision. It is a lot of responsibility, and it is a job that can go on for years.
Assigning a trustee to your estate should be a business decision void of emotion, which is why automatically assigning your spouse as a trustee is a bad idea. When a person understands what it means to be a trustee, it can change their perspective on being asked to do so. Instead of it being an emotional obligation or considered an honor, it can be seen as an intrusive and unwanted responsibility.
You should never assign a trustee to your will until the person you ask knows exactly what it means to be a trustee. If you assign your spouse and you both live to be very old, then having your spouse handle your estate would be a bad idea. You need to lay out exactly what it means to be a trustee to your estate, and make sure the person you are asking knows exactly what they are getting into.
On your side, you need to be sure that the person you are asking to be your trustee is capable of doing the job. While you don't need a lawyer or accountant to be your trustee, it does help to have someone who has a bit of business sense and can make decisions that you would approve of in that position.
If you are having a difficult time finding a good trustee, then consider hiring a trust company. These are emotionless companies that constantly have qualified and experienced people ready to handle your estate. When you hire a trust company, they will conduct several interviews with you to make sure that they understand how you want your estate handled when you pass on. Without that emotional attachment to the situation, a trust company can be a very effective trustee to your estate.
Every will has a trustee, and every trustee will be asked to do a lot when the will owner passes away. Choosing a trustee should be a business decision that does not take any kind of emotion into account. If you cannot find a trustee within your circle of family or friends, then it is a good idea to hire a trust company to take care of your last wishes. The job of trustee is demanding and can extend out for a long time. Before you assign a trustee, you want to be sure that you have made the right decision.