5 Reasons Uncle Fred May Not Make a Good Trustee

If you have created a dynasty trust that you intend to last for decades into the future, the right trustee is critical to the trust’s longevity and ultimate success.

Initially you may think that a family member, such as a sibling (“Uncle Fred” to your children, who are the initial beneficiaries of your Dynasty Trust), is the best choice as trustee. After all, Uncle Fred understands the personalities and varying needs of your children, and since Fred has always been frugal, he will surely keep the costs of administering the trust down. These are good reasons to possibly select a family member, like Fred, to serve as trustee.


However, Uncle Fred may not make a good trustee for a long-lasting dynasty trust since he is probably not be equipped to handle all of his fiduciary obligations on his own. Instead, he will need to hire legal, investment and tax advisors to insure that the trust is being distributed, managed and invested as you have intended. All of these expenses will add up and may ultimately cost much more than the fees of a corporate trustee, such as a bank or trust company. Many corporate trustees can meet all fiduciary obligations under one roof for one comprehensive fee.

Considerations When Choosing a Trustee

Below are five reasons why you should consider choosing a corporate trustee for your dynasty trust instead of Uncle Fred:

  1. A Corporate Trustee Doesn’t Have a Potentially Disruptive Personal Life. A corporate trustee won’t become ill or die, get married or divorced, have children or grandchildren, go on an extended vacation, move to a foreign country, or get distracted by day-to-day life that can get in the way of properly administering your trust.
  1. A Corporate Trustee is Unbiased. A corporate trustee won’t favor one of your children over another (unless that’s what you intended) and will act in an unbiased manner in making distributions that will benefit both the current and remainder beneficiaries.
  1. A Corporate Trustee Avoids Conflicts of Interest and Self-Dealing. A corporate trustee won’t sell the family company or a vacation home (that you intended to eventually go to your grandchildren) to him or herself or a friend at less than fair market value.
  1. A Corporate Trustee Invests Appropriately. A corporate trustee won’t invest all of the trust assets in a money market, real estate, or hedge fund but will diversify the portfolio to benefit both the current and remainder beneficiaries (subject to any specific instructions you list in the trust agreement).
  1. A Corporate Trustee Has Expert Knowledge. A corporate trustee won’t need to hire a slew of attorneys and accountants to interpret the trust agreement and will keep current on changes in the laws governing trusts, fiduciaries and taxes.

Final Considerations

The duties and responsibilities of a trustee are extensive: From managing the requests and expectations of the current and remainder beneficiaries, to providing periodic reports of the trust assets, liabilities, receipts and disbursements to the current and remainder beneficiaries, to prudently investing the trust assets, to preparing and filing all required tax forms, the work of a trustee seemingly never ends.

Due to the breadth of duties and responsibilities, a corporate trustee rather than Uncle Fred may be the best option for your dynasty trust. Please contact us if you have any questions about the selection of a trustee generally or the use of corporate trustees, so that we can assist you in selecting the right individual or entity to serve as your trustee.

About the Author Donald Rolfe

Father, husband, entrepreneur, and owner of a trivia filled brain. I help families and individuals plan for the unexpected and end of life. Schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session to chat with me, get answers to your questions, and find out about your Estate Plan options.

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