Guardian & Trustee … should they be one in the same

/ September 17, 2012

I often get the question, “should our guardians and trustees be the same people?”  I always give the same answer, “I cannot answer that for you because I do not know the people in your lives, but I can give you some things to consider.”

First, you must remember what role each person plays.  Your guardian is the person(s) you name to provide day-to-day care, love and support for your child.  Your trustee is the person(s) who handles the finances you have left for your child.  See some of the previous posts on Epilawg regarding selecting guardians and trustees (Key Players in Your Estate Plan, Appointing a Guardian for Minor Children, Naming a Guardian, Selecting Trustees).

You must consider the people in your life.  To me, the first and most important question is, who do you want to raise your child.  Second, ask yourself, is that person good with money.  If the answer to the second question is “no,” then do not name the same person(s).  If the answer is “yes,” then it is completely acceptable to name the same person in both roles.

Some people will intentionally decide to name different people in each role, for example, to include both sides of the family.  If you are naming different people, you must consider how the named individuals currently get along.  If the relationship is strained, then consider a different combination of people.  Strained relationships tend to deteriorate after someone has passed.

These are not easy decisions; however, they are ones that must be made in order to protect and plan for our children.