Naming a Successor Trustee
A Successor Trustee must be named if you have or are drafting a Revocable Trust. Living Trusts (Revocable Trusts) are the most common estate planning instruments people use to protect themselves and their beneficiaries. Fewer people take a chance on having a Will-based estate plan as it ca result in one’s estate having to be ‘probated.’ Probate is expensive and takes up to 18-months to complete leaving beneficiaries in the lurch. A revocable trust helps people manage their assets while they live and transfers their assets quickly, smoothly, privately, while avoiding probate court upon passing. A key challenge of completing a revocable trust is finding and naming a responsible and dependable person to be your successor trustee.
What Does a Successor Trustee Do?
Upon the Trustee’s incapacity or death, a successor trustee(s) takes over the role of trustee. When an individual or couple sets up a revocable trust, the creators of the trust — the “trustors” — become the initial trustees. That is why revocable trusts are called Living Trusts! Moreover, that is why revocable trusts (living trusts) are the most popular estate planning tool in the United States: you are totally in control of all you own and how it is used while alive!
A Living Trust can be the PERFECT estate plan. The creators of a ‘Living Trust’ are BOTH the beneficiaries AND the trustee(s). As the beneficiary and trustee of one’s own trust you are in COMPLETE CONTROL. Legally, your beneficiaries can avoid probate and family in-fighting and you have a cool estate plan. Practically, however, nothing has changed in that you still own and enjoy ALL your money, accounts and stuff.
If you are a couple creating a revocable trust, the successor trustee will typically be the surviving (or non-incapacitated) spouse. If, however, one spouse is not comfortable dealing with finances, filing tax returns or be emotionally overwhelmed with the tasks involved in becoming the new trustee, you will need to name someone else to become your successor trustee. One possibility is to name an experienced Professional Trustee also known as a Professional Fiduciary.
Duties of a successor trustee. When a successor trustee becomes trustee, he or she is responsible for administering the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary(ies). Duties include managing and distributing assets, filing necessary tax returns and keeping accurate records. A trustee is also expected to be a good decision-maker who will specifically follow-through carrying out the wishes and requests of the trust’s creator(s). Many trustees will need to oversee the care-taking and well-being of the trust’s beneficiaries who become ill. Another responsibility, if there are any minor children is overseeing their care and well-being.
For some couples, one spouses would make an excellent choice as successor trustee, but the other not. If that is the case, a experienced trustee (professional fiduciary) is a good alternative. Similarly, those who have moved away from family and friends and they are geographically distant, and for those who have outlived family and friends, they too might choose to retain the services of a professional fiduciary to be named their successor trustee.
Considerations in Choosing a Successor Trustee
Because the position of trustee is so important, it is important to name the right person to become trustee should you become incapacitated or die. Choose someone you have high confidence that they:
- Will represent the trustors’ and beneficiaries’ interests
- Can work with executors, agents, family members, and existing professional advisors
- Can make unbiased and objective decisions
- Has enough time to oversee and manage your affairs
- Are experienced handling finances, preparing financial accountings, and filing tax returns
If There is No One To Name Successor Trustee?
If you have no surviving family or friends, or if there is simply no one who you trust to be the Successor Trustee of your Revocable Trust, you have the option to name a Professional Fiduciary. Professional Fiduciaries are often people who love to serve others and have worked hard for decades to earn their credentials and reputation.
According to San Diego Fiduciary, Donald E. Fischer, “Providing care as a Professional Fiduciary is as much a calling as it is a career.”
A fiduciaries’ duties often include: supporting mental and emotional well-being; reducing the stress of changing circumstances or unexpected events; and, helping each client, and their families, to enjoy a fulfilling life.
Call (619) 663-9203 for a Free Consultation with Donald E. Fischer
Choosing a Successor Trustee is so important should you become incapacitated or die. Sometimes there is no family member or friend you can trust. A professional trustee, known as a Professional Fiduciary can be named. Call (619) 663-9203 for a Free Consultation with Donald E. Fischer. Mr. Fischer offers Professional Fiduciary Services to San Diego attorneys and residents from offices in San Diego and Fresno.
As experienced, trusted, and licensed California Fiduciaries, we have a fiduciary duty to our clients and their estates. Every service we provide is centered around trust.