One of the hardest decisions parents make is who to appoint guardian of their minor children in case of their passing. And if that were not a hard enough decision, they will also need to evaluate who will control their family’s purse strings to be sure everyone is taken care of moving forward. That role is called trustee and it is strictly financial.
It would seem that the best answer would also be to make that same person both the guardian and trustee of the funds to be used to raise your children. After all, that is what most parents do in their lifetime. Most estate planning professionals will advise against this, though there are always exceptions. Here are questions to consider when making the choice for your family:
Is the guardian you selected to care for your children your choice because he/she is a nurturing caregiver?
Is he/she then, also just as a good with managing money?
What kind of experience does he/she have with saving and investing?
Do you think he/she would appreciate ONLY to concentrate on raising your children?
Will he/she be better off without the burden of managing the estate as well?
Will he/she work cooperatively with others?
Remember the funds you leave will probably need to be invested and grown properly and this task is sometimes better left to individuals in your family with this skill or even to professional money managers who can be trusted. Therefore, in general, we feel that your family is better served by having two separate people acting as guardian and trustee, especially if parents have been divorced and/or remarried.
This choice is just one of the many choices we can help you to evaluate as we work on an estate plan together. Call Seiter Law for more information or to schedule a FREE consultation.
Originally written in October 2016; updated March 2021.