• Dinesh Chawla

Does It Really Matter If My Trustee Gets Along with the Beneficiaries?

When you choose the person to serve as a trustee of your Michigan trust, it’s important to consider not only their willingness and ability to execute this role, but their ability to get along with beneficiaries as well.


Far too many estate planning disputes occur because beneficiaries are unable to get along with or do not trust the trustee. A trustee can make this process easier by communicating well and often with beneficiaries.


The easiest way to start is by communicating with beneficiaries early on to educate those people about the trustee's role, to help them understand realistic expectations about what it will take to administer the trust, and to treat any questions from beneficiaries as opportunities to engage them rather than annoyances.


Beneficiaries must be kept reasonably informed about how trust assets are being managed. This is the bare minimum that should be done.


Getting in touch early with beneficiaries helps to form strong communication with the beneficiaries, but whenever you take an action as a trustee or discover information that could potentially impact those beneficiaries, make sure to let them know about it.


Regular reports in the form of accountings will detail all the financial transactions, but you should not feel limited to financial updates alone. Informing beneficiaries about key offers on real estate that you intend to sell or problems you have been having with different brokerage accounts, for example, would also make for more appropriate forms of communication with the beneficiaries of a Michigan trust.