Choosing a Trustee or Personal Representative at Your Death

~ By Carol Johnson, JD ~

Do you have a trusted family member or friend who will act as your Personal Representative or Trustee at your death? If you do, you are lucky, because many people struggle with this decision because the trusted friend has predeceased or there is family discord as a result of a second marriage or an earlier disagreement.

If you want to name a competent fiduciary (also known as a Personal Representative, Executor or Trustee) to execute your estate or trust at your death, you have several choices if a trusted family member or friend is not an option for you.

Some people preparing their will choose a bank trust department or a law firm to act. These choices will likely be more expensive than a family member; also many law firms or bank trust departments will only handle a decedent’s estate or trust if the assets are $500,000 or more.

A fourth alternative is choosing a professional fiduciary or fiduciary services’ company. Fiduciary services’ companies and professional fiduciaries handle these estate and trust matters on a regular basis. Acting as a fiduciary requires acting in good faith and making decisions that are in the best interest of the decedent and the estate’s assets.

In Colorado, fiduciaries must charge an hourly fee for their work and not a percentage of the estate. So professional fiduciaries or fiduciary services’ companies are necessarily less expensive than law firms or bank trust departments because they are smaller and need to be competitive.

Another benefit of a professional fiduciary or fiduciary services’ company is that because they do this kind of estate and trust work every day, it is not as likely that they will need to hire an accountant or attorney for professional advice. Typically, a trusted friend or family member will have to hire professionals for assistance.

Maybe you were not aware that you have this fourth choice. Professional fiduciaries or fiduciary services’ companies are available to you as an alternative competent Personal Representative or Trustee at a reduced expense as compared to a law firm or bank trust department. Carefully research your choice no matter which option you choose.

Carol Johnson

Carol Johnson

Carol Johnson  JD is an experienced Colorado estate administration attorney and former probate paralegal using these skills and knowledge in a fiduciary services’ business focusing on trust and estate administration as a Personal Representative or Trustee.  She can be reached at Carol-530@comcast.net or 303-474-4235 or the Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Search.