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How to choose trustees among your adult children

Most parents dread when their children saunter up to them and ask, “who’s your favorite?” or “which one of us do you love more?” There are silly questions that all parents deal with, but those questions tend to pop up again during the estate planning process.

People tend to choose one of their children to handle their estate after they pass because they will outlive them and have their best interests at heart. However, if you have multiple adult children, choosing one person creates hostility among all your kids.

What do you do?

As a parent, you have several options. Your first option is to assign multiple co-trustees to your estate. It’s an excellent option if your children get along well and know not to fight for your assets after your death. However, it’s also a risky option because you never know exactly how your children will act. There are several horror stories where parents name multiple trustees, and the children end up fighting for those same assets in probate court anyway.

Next, you could not name any children as trustees. Instead, you could choose a family friend or relative to manage the estate and assets. It is an especially great option if you have a family friend who works as an attorney or with a financial institution.

You could also hire a professional trustee, such as a bank or trust company if you don’t want to assign a family member to manage your estate. However, professional trustees are only useful with larger, more complex estates due to the high fees.

Otherwise, you can choose one of your children and have an open discussion to let your children know about your plans and communicate why you made the decisions you did. It’s a wonderful opportunity to minimize any hard feelings among your kids.

No matter what you choose, make sure you are making the right choice for your life. Don’t let your children, family members or anyone else influence your estate plans because it should represent your interests.

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