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What Does a Successor Trustee Do?

Jesse A. Block June 22, 2022

Gavel and Estate Planning books on deskA successor trustee is an individual of your choosing who will be tasked with managing your trust in the case that you pass or become incapacitated. Therefore, picking your successor trustee is one of the most important choices that you will face when establishing a family trust--you’ll want to make sure that you’re comfortable with this person managing your affairs when you’re gone. This person will manage your bills, mortgage, groceries, etc. in the event that you are not able to.

While you’re alive, your successor trustee isn’t tasked with much other than coordinating with you on how to administer the trust for when you aren’t. Your responsibilities to your successor trustee are more earnest however, as you will need to notify your successor trustee of their position--and then clearly explain your expectations for how they should manage your affairs in your absence.

After you pass, your successor trustee’s responsibilities will include an array of personal and financial tasks.

Personally, they will be notifiers and communicators--notifying family and beneficiaries and updating them regularly of the status of the estate. Differing state and organizational procedures can make this a complicated task. Also, they will need to prove your death with several copies of your death certificate. They will need to allocate any assets not designated in the trust by liquidating it--if needed-- and then dividing it between beneficiaries or adding it to the trust fund. They will need to allocate your personal gifts--and then everything else after settlement of the estate. They will need to file state and federal taxes on behalf of the deceased.

Financially, they will need to analyze your expectations as explained in the trust, while also managing your property that wasn’t placed into the trust--the latter may involve probate. Also, they will need to accurately manage a bank account for the trust. They will need to make your passing known to financial institutions, accounts, and debtors. They will need to quickly allocate designated sums to the respective beneficiaries. They will need to do this as quickly as possible after notifying retirement accounts and life insurance companies. They will need to schedule appraisals and protect that which belongs to the trust. They will need to maintain any real estate and pay any bills. They will need to report your passing to the credit bureaus--as well as close any credit accounts you may have. They will need to ensure that there are enough resources to pay off existing debts. Finally, once everything is settled and accounted for--they will need to close the trust.

From the time of your passing to the moment that the trust closes, your successor trustee will have an ever-expansive to-do list of tasks necessary to your trust. Those mentioned above are only a few. Managing the trust of a deceased loved one can be extremely overwhelming. Therefore, it is essential to work with your local Kennesaw estate attorney to help you see the process through. If you are having difficulties in finding a successor trustee or are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being one, give Kennesaw estate lawyer Jesse A. Block a call today at (770) 387-4529.