Is it wise to make one child both the trustee and agent in a power of attorney?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2010
Ddutchman1 asked...

Is it wise to make one child the trustee of your trust and also have power of attorney over all of your affairs? There are two other children involved.

Expert Answers

Liza Hanks is the founder and owner of FamilyWorks Estate Planning, a law firm with offices in Campbell and Los Altos, California, and the author of The Busy Family's Guide to Estate Planning (Nolo, 2007).

It depends on your family dynamics.

Often one child is entrusted with both jobs. The agent acts for a parent when they are alive, but incapacitated; the trustee usually is empowered to act after death, but sometimes during life, if the parent resigns as trustee.

The issue is whether your family will respect and cooperate with that one child, or whether they will be upset and uncooperative. Of course, if so, naming all of them might just make matters worse.

Your best course may be to first consult your parental instincts, and ask yourself whether sharing the responsibility makes more sense than naming one to do the job.

Also, consider having a conversation with the adult children to find out what they think would be the best family solution.

Finally, if neither solution makes sense, you might consider naming someone outside the family. That way, you can treat all three equally.