Selecting a Successor Trustee

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So, you’ve decided you need a Revocable Trust (also referred to as a Living Trust). Congratulations! You have just taken the first step towards successful estate planning. What’s next?

One of the most important questions you’ll need to answer is who your Trustee will be. Typically, the grantor (you) of the trust chooses to be the original trustee. Married couples are often co-trustees, which allows the surviving spouse to continue acting as trustee when the other spouse dies or becomes incapacitated. The question then becomes, “who will act as the successor trustee when I (and my spouse) die or become incapacitated?” Sometimes this question can be difficult to answer.

To determine who your successor trustee will be, it’s important to understand what a successor trustee does.

At a glance, a successor trustee is responsible for:

  • Familiarizing themselves with the trust provisions
  • Safeguarding and managing the assets of the trust
  • Keeping beneficiaries informed
  • Contacting necessary persons (i.e.: guardians, family members, banks or an attorney as necessary)
  • Making distributions according to the trust provisions
  • Keeping accurate records
  • Paying bills and constructing a final accounting

While the above list is not everything a successor trustee handles, it is clear that a successor trustee is charged with a great deal of responsibility. However, because you may not be living or have the capacity to guide your successor trustee when it’s time for them to step-up, you are charged with the responsibility of naming the person or person(s) who will fulfil this important role. For some, this person may be an adult child. For others, the successor trustee could be a responsible adult sibling, a living parent or other adult family member. Alternatively, some may elect not to name a family member at all, but a private fiduciary service or corporate trustee instead.

Though it may seem daunting, choosing your successor trustee need not be scary or even absolute. Try as we might to predict the future, life does not always go according to our plans. The wonderful thing about revocable trusts, is that they are written to allow the grantor (you) to amend them as necessary. Life changes, and with it, relationships change as well. With a revocable trust in place, you can make the necessary changes to your successor trustees (and other provisions as well) to reflect changed circumstances.

If you are thinking of changing your successor trustee, are interested in taking the next step in drafting your trust, or you have other estate planning questions, then schedule a free 30-minute consultation today and let us provide you with the tools you need to reach your estate planning goals.

This article is provided as a public service by the Law Offices of C. David Martinez, PLLC. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not legal advice or legal representation. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the law and our reliance upon outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of information contained herein.

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