Why Would We Need a Successor Trustee?

Over the years I have had the privilege of acting as a successor trustee for many of my clients. In the case of a single person, it is more obvious why they would need a successor trustee to act on their behalf if they became incapacitated.

Why Would You Want a Successor Trustee?

futureMost of the time when I am approached to be a successor trustee, it is by a married couple who have been tax and/or financial planning clients for many years. They realize that they are both currently capable of handling their financial affairs.

However, when one of the spouses passes away, it leaves the surviving spouse exposed to the possibility of becoming incapacitated without a partner to look after them and their affairs.

2 Benefits of a Trust

All married couples should have a well-written trust document, which:

  1. Helps them eliminate or minimize possible estate taxes
  2. Provides for a successor trustee who can act on behalf of the surviving spouse, if and when they become incapacitated or pass away

Successor Trustee Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the successor trustee are very important for the overall benefit of the client and their designated beneficiaries. The trustee:

  1. Safeguards the assets of the surviving spouse
  2. Arranges to pay for their care and medical expenses

Successor Trustee Duties

After the surviving spouse passes away, the trustee:

  1. Makes a complete accounting of the income and expenses of the estate
  2. Distributes the assets of the decedent in accordance with the wishes of the client

Take some time to think about what would happen if something happens to you, and consult legal and financial professionals who can advise you of your options. Now is the best time to make plans for the future.


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