When it comes time for people to designate a trustee for their estate in Michigan, they should spend adequate time selecting someone credible. Because the duties of a trustee require access to personal records and confidential information, people should choose someone with integrity and loyalty.

People who know which characteristics to look for in a trustee can better protect the assets they find most valuable.

Putting the “trust” in the trustee

A trustee will take over obligatory duties when the estate’s owner passes away or suffers incapacitation. By law, trustees agree to uphold certain standards. Failure to abide by legal practices can result in costly consequences for both the trustee and any of the estate’s beneficiaries. According to the National Center for Family Philanthropy, two critical characteristics of a credible trustee include the following:

  • People should choose a trustee who works well with other people and can work as part of a team
  • People should choose a trustee who can remain level-headed and objective in discussions about the estate

People will also benefit from looking for a trustee who respects their legacy and can communicate effectively with others. Organizational skills, time management and an understanding of general finances are also important.

Determining trustee responsibilities

Perhaps the most commonly known responsibility of a trustee is to distribute assets. However, they uphold other obligations as well. According to Fidelity, a trustee may also take charge of the following:

  • Preparing and filing tax returns and other legal documents
  • Investing assets where requested
  • Providing thorough answers to questions from beneficiaries

A trustee’s primary responsibility is to perform their duties with integrity to properly respect the legacy of the person who chose them in the first place.