Choosing a Successor Trustee
A Successor Trustee must be chosen if you have or are currently drafting a Revocable Trust. Revocable Trusts, commonly called ‘Living Trusts’, are the most common and powerful document that makes up a modern-day estate plan. Having only a Will-based estate plan can result in one’s estate needing to be ‘probated.’ Probate court proceedings are expensive and slow taking up to 18-months to complete. A revocable trust helps people manage their assets while alive and passes their assets quickly, smoothly, and without need of a probate court upon passing. One challenge of completing one’s revocable trust is selecting the right person to be your successor trustee.
What a Successor Trustee Does
Upon the Trustee’s incapacity or death, a successor trustee(s) will assume the role of trustee. When a person or couple sets up a revocable trust, the creators of the trust (“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.
For most people, a Living Trust is the PERFECT estate plan. The beauty of a ‘Living Trust’ in that the creators of their trust are BOTH the beneficiaries AND the trustee(s). As the beneficiary and trustee of one’s own trust you are in COMPLETE CONTROL as if nothing changed from not having a trust. If a couple, the successor trustee will typically be the surviving (or non-incapacitated) spouse. If, however, one spouse is not very good handling finances, making decisions, or would be emotionally overwhelmed with the tasks involved in becoming the new trustee, you will need to find and name a someone else to become your successor trustee. One possibility you may not be aware of is an experienced Professional Trustee also known as a Professional Fiduciary.
Duties of a successor trustee. When a successor trustee becomes the trustee, he or she is responsible for administering the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary(ies). Duties include managing and distributing assets, filing tax returns and keeping accurate records. Aside from the administrative tasks, a trustee is also supposed to be a wise and careful decision-maker to follow through the wishes and requests of the creators of the trust. For example, the new trustee might need to manage the care-taking and oversee the well-being of beneficiaries who are ill or incapacitated. Overseeing the care and well-being of any minor children is also a regular responsibility for a newly appointed trustee.
In many families, one of the spouses would make an excellent choice as successor trustee, but the other not so much. If that is the case, a professional fiduciary (experienced trustee) is a good alternative. Those who have outlived family and friends might also want 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 critical to choose the right person to become trustee should you become incapacitated or die. Choose someone you have high confidence they:
- Will represent the trustors’ and beneficiaries’ interests
- Able to work with executors or 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, filing tax returns, and preparing financial accountings
What if There is No One You Can Name as 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 as your choice. Professional Fiduciaries are often people who love to serve others and have worked hard for decades to earn their credentials and reputation.
According to Fresno 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 (559) 905-4315 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 (559) 905-4315 for a Free Consultation with Donald E. Fischer. Mr. Fischer offers Professional Fiduciary Services to attorneys, estate planning professionals, and residents of Fresno, Madera, Merced, Modesto and the San Joaquin Valley from his Fresno office and Southern California residents from his offices in San Diego, CA.
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.