By Harry S. Margolis
Most people who create trusts for estate planning and asset protection purposes serve as their own trustees during life and then prefer family members to step in if they become incapacitated or to serve for trusts that continue after the grantor's death. Family member trustees keep things private and save money since professional trustees—whether a lawyer, a bank or a trust company—usually charge charge fees of 1.0% to 1.2% of the trust assets per year, often a higher percentage for smaller trusts—under $1 million—and a lower percentage for larger ones—over $2 million.
The use of a professional trustee also means a loss of control for family members and sometimes a loss of continuity when the trust officers for a larger bank or trust company change over time. In addition, if an individual attorney is serving as trustee, there's a risk of a loss of continuity or a gap if the trustee falls ill, passes away, or retires.
Benefits of Professional Trustees
So, with all of these downsides of using a professional trustee, what are the advantages? And how can you mitigate some of the potential drawbacks?