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Estate Planning and Trust Protectors

Published September 28, 2009

A trust protector is an individual who will oversee a trust and make sure it is not affected in the event that laws or other circumstances change. A trust that will be in effect for a lengthy period of time may benefit from a trust protector. Appointing a trust protector makes a long-term trust more flexible and able to adjust to unexpected events.

Some examples of powers that a trust protector may be given include: removing or replacing a trustee, handling disputes between trustees and/or beneficiaries, amending the trust, adding beneficiaries, changing disbursements according to changes in beneficiaries’ circumstances (such as divorce), and having the final say over investment of the trust’s assets. The trust document can be used both to name a trust protector and to define his or her powers.

Although anyone may serve as a trust protector, it is generally a good idea to hire an independent third party or professional, since s/he may have to make decisions that affect beneficiaries or resolve conflicts between beneficiaries should any arise. An experienced elder law and estate planning attorney can help ensure that a trust protector is given the right balance of power to oversee a long-term trust effectively.

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