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Estate planning includes choosing a reliable successor trustee

When people in Oklahoma set up trusts, it may be for a variety of reasons. They may wish to make sure educational funds are available for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, or they may intend to ensure certain assets are protected from creditors. Whatever the purpose, the best way to make sure the goals of the trust are achieved is to appoint a trustworthy successor trustee. Choosing the best trustee is essential to successful estate planning.

The trust itself should provide guidance that will enable the trustee to understand and accomplish the goals the trustor had in mind. Even if the beneficiaries are unhappy with the terms of the trust, the trustee must be willing to abide by the stipulations in the document. It is also important for the trustee to communicate with the beneficiaries regularly so they are aware of the status of the assets. Without this communication, the beneficiaries may begin to suspect that the trustee is not being honest.

Financial experience and organizational skills are two important qualities found in a good trustee. A trust may be complicated and require careful attention to detail. If a trustee has no experience managing investments or property, he or she may benefit from professional help.

A trustee should be above reproach so there is no risk that the trust funds would become a temptation. The most common culprit of elder abuse is often the person most trusted by the victim. Privately managed estates often have few checks and balances, and a trustee should have the integrity to deal with the assets without skimming from them.

Choosing a successor trustee is not always an easy decision. Since trusts are an important part of estate planning, many in Oklahoma rely on their attorneys for help and guidance. A lawyer can offer assistance in setting up trusts and provide advice for selecting an appropriate successor trustee.

Source:, "Selecting the Right Successor Trustee", Shelly O'Byrne, Oct. 17, 2016

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