The ensuing legal battle for control of Princess Abigail Kawananakoa’s $215 million trust is a lesson in the importance of choosing the right trustee for your trust. On one side, there is her former attorney who is the current trustee, and on the other, is her partner of 20 years who receives an approximate $700,000 annual allowance from the Princess.
The Princess’ partner claims that the attorney is trying to use the trust to benefit himself. While, the attorney asserts that he can only manage the trust property for the benefit of the beneficiaries and he is not a beneficiary. This fight for control of the trust highlights the importance of the need to really think deeply when considering your choice for successor trustee of your trust.
The successor trustee of your ongoing trust should be:
It is paramount that you trust your trustee. This person will manage your trust and effectively manage your legacy. You must be confident that your trustee will not mismanage trust property.
You should consider the relationship between your trustee and the beneficiaries. Will the trustee treat all beneficiaries equally? For example, if your second spouse is the trustee, will he/she be fair to both your children together and your children from a previous marriage.
3. Financially Responsible.
Your trustee doesn’t have to be a financial whiz, but it is helpful if he/she has a basic understanding of financial concepts. Investing is common in managing a trust and your trustee should be able to do this prudently. When in doubt, the trustee should have the good judgment to enlist advisors to assist.
4. Willing to Accept the Job
Managing an ongoing trust can be a lot of work. Also, there’s always the risk of being sued by unhappy beneficiaries. Your trustee should be aware of the burdens involved and be ready to take them on.
If you don’t know anyone that satisfies at least the four above criteria, you can hire a professional trustee from a private trust company or other financial institution as a last resort.
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This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
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