Important Information on Selecting a Successor Trustee

Important Information on Selecting a Successor Trustee

Whenever you develop a living trust, you must decide who will be your successor trustee. This is the person who will take control of your trust assets upon your passing or if you become medically incapacitated. Below are some of the considerations to keep in mind when making this decision:

The role of the successor trustee

Your trustee will manage the trust before your death if you become incapacitated. Therefore, your trustee must be someone you trust to be organized and honest, and who will appropriately spend money on your behalf. This person must also follow state law with regard to investing trust assets.

Keep in mind that depending on your condition, this responsibility could last for years. This means the trustee would also be in charge of filing your income tax returns on your behalf — a step you would not have to take when managing your own revocable living trust.

After your passing, the trustee must gather and protect all trust assets and distribute them to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the trust. The trustee may need to work alongside your personal representative during the estate administration process.

Who should you select?

Many people choose a family member or close friend to be their successor trustee, which typically works out just fine. However, if there are regular disagreements within your family, it might be a good idea to go with a neutral third party.

A corporate trustee or individual professional fiduciary can be an unbiased figure who will not be influenced by longstanding grudges or feuds. A corporate trustee or individual professional fiduciary also will have the expertise to effectively handle trusts with valuable assets. You can work with the trust division of a bank or a company specializing in trustee services. You can also have your attorney serve as your trustee in many cases but remember that attorneys are trained in the law, but not in financial asset management so they may be a better selection than a family member, but still not as good as a professional fiduciary.

To learn more about the factors to consider when selecting a successor trustee, meet with a knowledgeable Florida estate planning lawyer at BaumannKangas Estate Law.