What to do when someone asks you to be their Trustee.
Courtesy of David Mills from Mills & Mills LLP. And contributed by J. Paul Mills, Q.C.
If someone asks you if you are willing to be her or his Estate Trustee, Executor, Attorney for Property or guardian of children, you should not automatically say “Yes”. Acting in any one of these fiduciary capacities can be seen to be an honour but there are very serious responsibilities involved which should not be undertaken lightly. Those responsibilities include, but are not limited to, carrying out the instructions of the person who has appointed you without allowing personal interests to interfere. You also have an obligation to account to those individuals who have a financial interest in what you are doing. Failure to carry-out your duties efficiently and responsibly can result in court-imposed sanctions against you.
In addition to your responsibilities, you should also consider whether you are placing yourself in a position where no one will be happy with what you do. Is there existing conflict among family members which is only going to get worse when money is on the line? In such circumstances, you may be well advised to say “Thank you for considering me but I really don’t feel qualified to accept”.
The same considerations apply if you are making your own Will and deciding who to appoint as your Estate Trustee or to hold your Power of Attorney. Give careful thought not only to the technical skills required for the job but also for the inter-personal skills that will be needed.
For more information on related topics, please contact DFS Private Wealth, the author of Managing Alone and founder of widowed.ca. We are here to help and answer any questions you have. Should you need a connection to a professional in your area we would be happy to make the introduction for you to someone you can trust. Contact Us today.