Choosing the Right Trustee: Navigating Individual vs. Corporate Options for Your Estate Plan

Choosing between an individual trustee and a corporate trustee for managing your trust depends on several factors, including the size and complexity of your estate, the nature of the assets held in the trust, your specific goals, and the need for professional management. Here’s a breakdown of considerations for each option:

Individual Trustee:


Personal Touch: An individual, often a trusted family member or friend, may have a personal understanding of your wishes and the needs of the beneficiaries.

Cost: Generally, less expensive than a corporate trustee, as individuals might not charge for their services or may charge less than a corporate entity.

Flexibility: Individuals can offer more flexibility in decision-making and can be more accessible for beneficiaries to communicate with.


Limited Expertise: An individual might lack the professional knowledge in areas such as law, finance, and tax planning, which could be crucial for effectively managing the trust.

Potential for Bias: Personal relationships can sometimes lead to biased decision-making, which might not always be in the best interest of all beneficiaries.

Longevity and Continuity Issues: Individuals may become incapacitated, pass away, or choose to step down, potentially leading to disruptions in the management of the trust.

Corporate Trustee:


Professional Management: Corporate trustees have professional expertise in financial management, legal compliance, and tax planning, ensuring the trust is managed efficiently and effectively.

Impartiality: A corporate trustee can provide unbiased and impartial management of the trust, making decisions based purely on the terms of the trust and the best interests of the beneficiaries.

Continuity: A corporate trustee provides continuity in management, as they do not succumb to issues of health or personal circumstances that might affect an individual trustee.


Cost: Corporate trustees typically charge for their services, which can be a percentage of the trust’s assets, potentially making them more expensive than individual trustees.

Less Personal: Corporate trustees might not have the same personal relationship with the beneficiaries as an individual trustee, which can make the management feel more impersonal and less tailored to individual beneficiary needs.

Less Flexible: Corporate entities may have more rigid policies and procedures, which can sometimes result in less flexibility in dealing with unique or unforeseen circumstances.

Combined Approach:

Some opt for a combination of both, appointing an individual co-trustee to bring a personal touch and a corporate co-trustee to ensure professional management. This can sometimes offer a balance between personal understanding and professional administration.

Given the complexities involved and the significant impact your choice of trustee can have on the effective management and distribution of your trust assets, it’s highly advisable to seek professional guidance. An estate planning attorney can provide valuable insights tailored to your specific situation, help you understand the legal and financial implications of your choices, and ensure your trust is set up in a way that best serves your objectives and the needs of your beneficiaries.

The Estate Planning Law Office of Jonathon L. Petty can help you navigate the intricacies of trust management, ensuring your estate is in capable hands and your legacy is preserved according to your wishes. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 559-374-2223 or complete our online form and we will be in touch.