In the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings select……
On April 25th, NFL fans will be interested observers of the annual amateur draft. Will the Vikings select an offensive lineman, a receiver or a kicker? The longevity of an NFL general manager is based, in part, on his success in making wise draft picks. For our clients, the decision as to who to appoint as Trustee of an ongoing testamentary trusts created following death is no less important. Whereas the average NFL career lasts just 3.3 years, the Trustee designation will have lasting implications on the successful implementation of a client’s estate plan.
By law, a Trustee has legal duties in carrying out the terms of a trust. Therefore, clients should carefully consider various options for who they appoint as Trustee. In making a decision, consider the following analogies to the NFL draft:
- Capability: Just as a college player must have the requisite physical skills, and why I was never under consideration to join an NFL team, the Trustee candidate must have the capabilities to serve as Trustee. Does the candidate have the time margin to take on the role, the stamina to see it through, and the skills necessary to make important and difficult decisions?
- Being a Team Player: Often a “star player” at the college level must learn to become a “role player” at the professional level. Similarly, someone who prefers to be the “star of the show” may not be a good fit as a Trustee, as a Trustee’s role is to implement the client’s estate plan, not re-create the plan.
- Coachability: A young football player must be able to receive and implement counsel from his coaches. Similarly, an individual Trustee candidate should have a healthy dose of humility about his or her own limitations and to seek the necessary investment, tax, and legal counsel.
- Contractual Obligations: Some small market franchises have budgetary constraints that might make signing a first-round pick to a long-term deal too risky. Similarly, clients should consider the impact that a candidate’s fees would have on the assets of the trust.
Keep in mind that while NFL draft picks are irrevocable, a Trustee designation can always be revised during a client’s lifetime. Especially with changes in family or financial situation, it is advisable for clients to periodically review and reconsider their choice for Trustee.