A revocable trust can be a useful device in estate planning, helping to avoid the lengthy and often expensive probate process and ensure more privacy for your finances. The question of whom to name as a successor trustee, however, is one that must be carefully considered in light of the needs of trust administration.
The person you choose as your trustee should be, as the name suggests, trustworthy as well as capable of performing basic administrative tasks. For many people planning their estates, the automatic choice is an adult child or other family member. But choosing the right trustee requires some logistic consideration. For example, many people have children or close relatives who are living in another state or even another country. While it is legal to choose these people as trustees, there are practical reasons not to, and why it is preferable to name a trustee who is at least living in this country, and preferably in California.
A trustee who is not here may find it difficult to handle the day-to-day management of trust assets and investments, and incur greater expenses for long distance communication or even travel. The mailing of notifications to heirs and other beneficiaries will be more cumbersome and expensive for someone living far away, as will filing documents with governmental bodies to transfer titles to real estate or vehicles.
This may be less of a problem if the assets in an estate consist primarily of funds in bank accounts, rather than real estate, or if the trustee is either the primary or sole beneficiary of the trust. Another circumstance that might mandate naming a distant relative as trustee is when there are no other suitable and “trustworthy” choices available. If you have doubts about whether your choice of trustee is the most practical, you can always seek the advice of a reputable estate planning attorney.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, “Can my daughter in Sweden be successor trustee of my trust?” Claudia Buck, Dec. 27, 2012