September 24, 2012
Picking the right trustee
I’m going through a divorce, and I’m about to buy a $600,000 life insurance policy. My 9-year-old daughter would be the beneficiary. I need a trustee, but how do I pick a good one?
First, your daughter wouldn’t be the beneficiary. You would leave it in a trust for her benefit. And I’m not sure I’d depend on an ex-husband to handle something that requires this much integrity. You’d be better off hiring a good attorney to execute the trust upon your death, or you can look for a bank that has a trust department.
Once you decide on a trustee, you must remember to clearly and specifically state what you want done with the money. Don’t say to invest the money appropriately, because what a banker views as an appropriate investment and what I view as an appropriate invest are usually very different. A banker might put the money in CDs, or certificates of deposit, while I’d probably look at something like mutual funds, which have a much better rate of return.
In many cases, a trust for a child is put in place to pay for their first car, a medical situation or their college education, but this is completely up to you. The balance of the money might go to them when they reach age 21, while they receive a monthly stipend for food and other essentials while they’re younger.
I’m proud of you for thinking ahead, Marie. I know divorce is hard, but your little girl is lucky to have such a good and caring mom on her side!
Dave's thoughts about online banks
How do you feel about using an online bank for your emergency fund?
I don’t think that’s a problem at all in most situations. Just make sure you do a little research. Know who you’re dealing with and that they’ve got some strength. A bank that is known as a “click and mortar”—one that has a physical location as well as online—would be my preference. Some of them have great debit card programs that includes debit card rewards and high-interest checking accounts, too.
When it comes to an emergency fund, I like the idea of keeping it in a separate money market account. That way you get money market rates, plus you can attach check writing privileges to the account. Then when an emergency comes along, you don’t have to worry about shuffling money around. You can just write a check out of the account. Problem solved!