Recently we’ve had a lot of questions about trustees – both in the context of the estate (formerly called the executor/executrix) and in inter vivos trust situations.

Generally speaking, the trustee is the person tasked with administering the trust according to the wishes of the person who donates the trust proceeds, or the testator, as the case may be. They have a legal duty to account for their actions as trustee and have legal obligations to the beneficiaries of the trust.

In the testamentary trust situation, the trustee is also going to be the person who organizes the affairs of the deceased. They need to know what the testator had, where they kept it, and what they want done with it. In addition to the trusts and gifts established by the Will, this may include insurance policies, RRSPS, pensions and other proceeds that might not flow through a Will.

Ultimately the choice of trustee should be a person who, as the title indicates, is trusted. But beyond that, there are some skills requirements you want to look for. Selecting a trustee who isn’t good with money or who is easily overwhelmed when dealing with paperwork and bureaucracies might not be a good idea.

In some situations we have recommended that our clients designate a professional trustee. The benefit with this option is in having experienced trust administrators who have the skills and resources to make sure the trust is administered properly – the downside is obviously the expense.

If you have any questions about this or any other issue, please feel free to contact us.

Scott R. Young