When it comes to estate planning, who will ultimately be in charge of your minor child is an important decision that requires consideration of many factors. Although there is no substitute for you as a parent, a guardian is essentially someone who steps in as a parent, assuming the parental role and raising the child until 18. A trustee, on the other hand, is in charge of managing the financial legacy that has been left behind for your child.
Who Makes a Good Guardian?
When choosing a guardian, the top factor to consider is who is the best person that will love and raise your child in a manner that you would. This would likely include religious beliefs, parenting style, interest in extracurricular activities, energy level, and whether or not he or she has children already. Keep in mind that a guardian will provide day-to-day love, care, and support for your child.
Who Makes a Good Trustee?
Not surprisingly, when choosing a trustee the most important characteristic is that he or she is great with finances and trustworthy, obviously! Specifically, the trustee must be able to manage the funds in accordance with your intent and instructions that are left in the child’s trust. Consider whether he or she will honor your wishes. In short, you want to choose a trustee who will act in your minor child’s best interest within the limits you have set forth in your estate plan documents.
So Should the Same Person Serve In Both Roles?
It is not necessarily a bad idea to have both the guardian and trustee be the same person. However, if you wish to provide more checks and balances over the money you leave to your child, having a different person serve in each role is more optimal. In a situation like this, when the guardian needs trust money to pay for your child’s various expenses, the guardian will have to ask the trustee for those funds and the trustee will either allow or disallow the expense based on the trust terms. If the same person is serving in both roles, obviously you don’t get that benefit. Maybe this concerns you; maybe it doesn’t.
Also, if you choose two different people for the role of guardian and trustee, make sure to consider how the two get along as they will likely have to work together throughout your minor’s childhood and possibly into adulthood.
Seek Help to Make Your Decision
While estate planning can be daunting, it does not have to be. Contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to help guide you through this process. We can explain your options and advise you on the best plan that will follow your wishes while at the same time meeting your family’s needs.
Contact Hamrick Law to Ensure Your Children are Protected!