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Should the same person serve as your executor and trustee?

When estate planning, you need to make a number of important decisions. It can take time to come to the right decisions, and in some cases, you may have a difficult time knowing which is right. From the types of planning tools you use to the people you put in charge of your final affairs, you have a lot to consider as you detail your end-of-life wishes.

You may have already decided that your estate plan could benefit from having a trust or multiple trusts. Now, you may wonder who you should put in charge to act as the trustee after your passing. You already know who you want to act as the executor of your overall estate, and it may cross your mind to use the same person as your trustee.

Pros and cons

You likely chose your appointed person as the executor of your estate because you feel he or she is trustworthy and responsible. Because you know this person has these qualities, it may make sense to you to simply put him or her in charge of your trust as well. This decision can have benefits such as:

  • Reducing expenses associated with managing the estate and working with professionals
  • Preventing miscommunication between the executor and the trustee because only one person is involved
  • Streamlining the probate process

However, naming the same person to both of these roles also means that no one else will have the power to keep him or her in check. As a result, if your executor turns out to be less trustworthy than you thought, your overall estate and your trust could be in jeopardy. If you name separate individuals as the executor and trustee, you may create a checks-and-balances relationship that keeps each party in line. Of course, it could also result in delays if the parties disagree on an estate matter.

Making the decision

Essentially, it is up to you to decide who you feel best suits the positions. If you know you have a trustworthy executor who will not mind taking on the added responsibilities of also acting as a trustee, you may want to appoint the same person to both roles. However, sharing the workload and keeping both parties accountable could be a benefit to naming separate parties.

When it comes to making your appointments, you may want to discuss this detail with a Washington estate planning attorney who can provide insight into the duties and necessities of these roles.

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