Your Successor Trustee is the person you’ll appoint to step in and take over the property owned by your Revocable Living Trust in the event of your disability or death. The person you choose will have an important and possibly complex job to do, and you’ll want to make your selection wisely. Here are just a few of the qualities you’ll want to consider when choosing a Successor Trustee:
- Organized: Your Successor Trustee will likely be in charge of financial accounts and investments as well as a variety of other property, and will be tasked with managing that property for the good of your beneficiaries. At the very least, this will mean that all the trust property will need to be identified and protected, and that the appropriate bills will need to be paid and accounts balanced. It may also mean that your Successor Trustee will need to make investment decisions on behalf of your trust. All of this requires your Trustee to maintain organized records.
- Honorable: The person you appoint to serve as Successor Trustee will be in charge of all the money and property held by your trust. Although he or she will be legally required to follow the written instructions of your trust in distributing that property, he or she will also need to be someone you have no doubt will manage the property according to your directions and your beneficiaries’ best interests.
- Fair: Trustees sometimes have to make tough calls when it comes to managing or distributing trust assets. Your Successor Trustee should be someone who can objectively balance the needs and interests of all your beneficiaries, and not play favorites.
- Emotionally Prepared: Particularly if your Successor Trustee is a close family member, the job of administering a trust can be emotionally taxing immediately after you’ve passed away. It can involve making decisions that carry serious financial and tax consequences, dealing with difficult beneficiaries, and handling government red tape. You’ll want to consider whether the person you choose for the job will be ready to handle the large and small frustrations that may come along with it.
Your estate planning attorney can help you decide who would be a good choice to serve as your Successor Trustee.