Wills and trusts can be complicated legal matters, and they often come out of complicated emotional thinking related to the legacy that someone wants to leave behind when they die. The issues can be more intricate when people are leaving large assets of various types to inheritors, and smart estate planners make sure their interests are protected.
Trust protectors are individuals who can have a role in managing expectations for trusts and reducing the need to contest them in probate court. Although the name may conjure the image of an armored knight, trust protectors don’t necessarily deal with the legal protection of a trust or its assets. Instead, they are there to perform duties not covered by other roles.
In some states, the role of trust protector is similar to that of trust advisor. A person in this role may have the power to replace a trustee or name a new one if a trustee dies, but they may not have the right to make strategic decisions on how assets in a trust are used or invested.
Special kinds of trusts may need a trust protector, especially if the trust gets tied up in probate court. Some trusts created outside the country for tax purposes or other ways of preserving value, for example, may require a trust protector.
Anyone using a trust or other financial instrument to pass on value may risk a conflict in probate court. While trusts are more difficult to challenge than a standard last will, they are not immune from challenges. Legal disputes related to trusts often become complicated quickly, potentially requiring legal help.