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Two women talking about choosing a trustee for your estate plan in Florida

Choosing the right trustee for your trust is one of the most crucial decisions you will make in your estate planning journey. The role of a trustee is multifaceted and demanding, requiring not only a deep understanding of financial and legal matters but also the ability to act impartially and with the beneficiaries’ best interests at heart.

Why Choosing the Right Trustee is Essential

As Bill O’Leary, a seasoned estate planning attorney from Jacksonville, Florida, explains in his YouTube video, “5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Trustee,” the trustee manages and distributes your assets according to the terms of your trust. This responsibility includes a myriad of tasks from detailed record-keeping to making judicious investment choices. The trustee’s actions can significantly affect the administration and ultimately the effectiveness of the trust.

Considerations When Selecting a Trustee in Jacksonville

Here are five key points attorney O’Leary outlines in his video on selecting the right trustee.

  1. Financial Acumen and Organizational Skills:
    • Ensure the trustee has the necessary financial knowledge and organizational skills. Managing a trust requires meticulous record-keeping, compliance with legal and tax obligations, and strategic investment decisions.
  2. Impartiality and Fairness:
    • The trustee must act impartially, putting the beneficiaries’ interests first. This is especially crucial in families where dynamics might be complex or where the trust involves multiple beneficiaries with differing needs.
  3. Dedication and Time Commitment:
    • Managing a trust is time-consuming. The potential trustee should be willing and able to dedicate the necessary time and effort. It’s important to select a trustee who can commit to the long term, especially for trusts intended to last several years.
  4. Professional vs. Personal Trustee:
    • Sometimes, a family member might not be the best choice for a trustee due to potential conflicts of interest or lack of time or expertise. In such cases, considering a corporate trustee like a trust company, or a professional such as an estate planning attorney or an accountant might be advisable. These professionals often have the experience and impartiality needed to manage complex trust arrangements effectively in addition to managing beneficiary relationships.
  5. Multiple Trustees:
    • Having co-trustees can be beneficial as it allows for a balance of skills and the sharing of responsibilities. Co-trustees can bring different perspectives and areas of expertise, which can aid in more balanced decision-making.

Practical Steps to Choosing Your Trustee

To aid in this critical decision, an estate planning professional who can provide personalized advice based on your unique situation and estate planning goals. It’s also beneficial to engage in discussions with potential trustees to gauge their willingness and ability to serve.


Selecting the right trustee involves a careful evaluation of potential candidates’ financial acumen, impartiality, dedication, and ability to handle complex, sometimes emotionally charged situations. By considering both personal attributes and professional qualifications, you can make a choice that ensures your trust will be managed effectively, thereby respecting your wishes and providing for your beneficiaries.

For more detailed guidance or to discuss your specific needs, schedule a discovery call with Legacy Planning Law Group. Our dedicated team is here to help you navigate these important choices, ensuring peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Key Takeaways

  1. Assess Financial and Organizational Skills: A trustee should have the requisite skills to manage trust affairs effectively.
  2. Evaluate Impartiality: The trustee must act in the best interest of all beneficiaries, maintaining fairness in complex family dynamics.
  3. Confirm Commitment: Meeting with your selected individual before naming a trustee in your plan is important to ensure the person is willing to commit time and effort over the long haul.
  4. Consider Professional Trustees: Professional trustees or co-trustees can offer expertise and reduce family conflicts.
  5. Consult Estate Planning Professionals: Engage with estate planning professionals to understand your options and ensure the trustee aligns with your estate goals.
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