A Successor Trustee is an individual (child, sibling or friend), institutional trust department or a licensed professional private fiduciary chosen by you to manage your living trust upon your incapacity, resignation and/or death to administer your living trust. Choosing the right Successor Trustee is one of the most important decisions that go into establishing your estate plan. You are entrusting them with taking care of you during your lifetime, if applicable, but also with the management and disbursement of your estate upon your passing.
If you are choosing your child, sibling or friend you need to take into consideration the personality of the individual. Despite what people think, it may not always be in your best interest to choose your child, sibling or friend. This does not mean you should not consider them, but being a Successor Trustee is not an easy job. Some of their duties include, but are not limited to making property investments, paying bills, keeping accounts and preparing tax returns. They must also be able to deal impartially with beneficiaries and potentially be a mediator. You need someone with good basic business sense, judgment and common sense.
Sometimes people want to choose an institutional trust department or a licensed professional private fiduciary as their Successor Trustee. Reasons to choose a profession rather than an individual include their being impartial, their experience administering trusts and not burdening an individual with the responsibility.
While all of these are good options, you also want to consider the trust terms, the length of time to administer the trust and the applicable fee structure charged.
It is important to discuss your choice of Successor Trustee with you Estate Planning Attorney as they can help guide you in the process. They can discuss with you the pros and cons of choosing an individual, institutional trust department or a licensed professional private fiduciary.
Always remember to revisit your Successor Trustee choice every few years to make sure the individual, institutional trust department or licensed professional private fiduciary still meet your criteria.