Q: We need to find a reputable executor for our trust. We don't have any relatives nearby that we would like to name. We have friends we trust but they are older like us and may find the chore too difficult. Who might we hire and what are the usual costs involved? Thank you. -- Marlene, Elk Grove, CA
A: In your situation, I recommend you consider naming a private fiduciary or a trust company to serve as the successor trustee of your trust and the executor of your will. These individuals and institutions are experienced in the issues that arise during a trust administration.
You could also ask a trusted advisor, such as a trusted accountant. However, you would need to confirm that the accountant or other advisor is familiar with trust issues, is willing to serve as your successor trustee and executor, and has considered their own succession plan in the event they become unable to serve and you need an alternate to serve. Note that persons other than private fiduciaries and trust officers are not generally bonded.
Trust companies are institutions that have developed an expertise in the management of trust funds and the performance of all other tasks related to properly administering a trust estate. They are often affiliated with banks or brokerage houses.
You should interview the trust officers of various institutions to find out about their company's minimum estate or trust size requirements, the qualifications of the personnel, and their internal policies on dealing with your loved ones as trust beneficiaries.
Private fiduciaries are individuals who are licensed by the state, and they can serve in a variety of capacities - as executor, trustee, or even as an attorney-in-fact or agent under a durable power of attorney or advance health care directive. Inquire about their personal succession plan, in case someone is needed to fill their position for your trust or estate.
There are many private qualified fiduciaries in the Sacramento region. I would consult your trusted advisors about persons they have worked with successfully in the past. I recommend that you meet several private fiduciaries, as well as trust officers at trust companies, to ensure that you find a situation with which you are comfortable.
Costs for private fiduciaries and trust companies serving as executor and/or trustee vary, so include this topic in your interview questions. Many trust companies charge annually a percentage of the total value of the trust, often around 1%. Private fiduciaries may charge hourly or a percentage rate, depending on the role in which they are serving. It is my impression that experienced private fiduciaries charge anywhere from $75 to $125 per hour or more in our area.