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Who is the Best Person to Manage a Trust in California?

Selecting the right person to manage your trust is a critical decision that requires careful consideration. In California, the initial trustees are often the individuals who create the trust, typically the person and their spouse or partner. However, when the initial trustees can no longer manage the trust due to incapacity or death, a successor trustee must take over. This post explores the key factors to consider when choosing the best person to manage your trust.


The most important quality in a trustee is trustworthiness. This person will have access to all your assets without court supervision, so it’s crucial that they are honest and reliable. Evaluate their past behavior, their dealings in the community, and your personal experience with them. While you can never be entirely certain of someone’s integrity until they are tested, your past interactions can provide significant insights.

Financial Sophistication

Consider the complexity of your financial life. If your estate includes real estate transactions, rental properties, or business interests, the trustee needs to have a certain level of financial acumen. They should understand how to manage these assets, or at least know how to hire and supervise professionals like property managers or business advisors. The trustee should be capable of interpreting reports, evaluating fees, and making informed decisions.

Family Dynamics

In many cases, people choose a spouse or partner as the successor trustee, followed by their children. However, this decision can lead to family conflicts if not handled thoughtfully. Avoid selecting a trustee based solely on whose feelings might be hurt if not chosen. This can lead to impractical arrangements, such as naming co-trustees who are not suited for the role or choosing a less capable trustee to avoid family disputes.

Professional Fiduciaries

Sometimes, it may be wise to avoid family conflicts by hiring a private professional fiduciary. These individuals are licensed by the state of California to serve as trustees and are bonded to ensure the trust is managed properly. Professional fiduciaries administer trusts impartially, ensuring that each beneficiary receives their intended gift without personal bias. They can also be required to carry insurance, providing an extra layer of protection for your beneficiaries.

Personal Considerations

Ultimately, the choice of a trustee is a deeply personal decision. Reflect on who you believe can manage your affairs if you are unable to do so and who will faithfully execute your wishes. Consider writing a note explaining your choice to help mitigate any potential hurt feelings and to clarify your reasons for selecting a particular trustee.


Choosing the best person to manage your trust in California involves evaluating trustworthiness, financial sophistication, and family dynamics. Whether you select a family member, friend, or professional fiduciary, the goal is to ensure that your estate is managed effectively and your wishes are honored. Make this decision carefully to protect your assets and provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.