Trust & Estate Planning

Choosing an Executor or Trustee

August 23, 2022

An estate plan helps you protect loved ones who will receive your assets when you’re gone and minimize the tax burden to beneficiaries. But who can you trust to oversee your estate and ensure it is settled according to your wishes?

It’s essential to choose a responsible party — someone who is ethical, organized, financially savvy, and capable of handling the many responsibilities involved, which include:

  • Collecting and protecting your assets: locate, gather, and oversee the management of your assets until they are distributed to your heirs.
  • Filing your tax returns: prepare your final income tax and estate returns, deal with the tax authorities, and pay any due taxes.
  • Settling your debts: give notice to creditors, pay your bills, and close your accounts.
  • Selling your business: oversee the transition or sale of your business.
  • Distributing assets: ensure assets are allocated to beneficiaries and/or fund your trusts according to your wishes and applicable law.

Frequently, people elect to have their spouse, a child, or a close friend oversee the settlement of their estate. However, those closest to you may not have the time, knowledge, or skills required to take on the responsibilities. And choosing a friend or family member can lead to potential conflict if your loved ones disagree on the disposition of assets. In addition, when selecting a person you know, a backup is necessary in case they are unwilling or unable to fill the role (due to illness, for example).

Many find selecting a corporate fiduciary like a bank or trust company provides peace of mind that their affairs will be handled correctly by an impartial and experienced team ready to facilitate the process and make things easier for their family at an already difficult time

What is the difference between an executor and a trustee? The primary distinction is in how they are appointed. An executor is named in a will and a trustee is named in a trust. An executor settles your probate estate (if any) and a trustee settles your trust estate.


If you have estate planning questions or want to learn more about selecting an executor or trustee for your estate, please contact your Washington Trust Wealth Advisor. And follow us to learn more about wealth planning!

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Any views or opinions expressed are those of Washington Trust Wealth Management. The information provided does not constitute legal, tax, or investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It does not take into account any investor's particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status, or investment horizon. Please consult with a financial counselor, attorney, or tax professional regarding your specific investment, legal, or tax situation. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to provide investment advisory or other services. All information is current as of the date of this material and may change at any time without prior notice. The information provided is solely for informational purposes and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but its accuracy is not guaranteed.