When you form a living trust, you will be able to serve as the trustee and manage your property and assets in the trust. However, once you pass away, someone else will need to take over these duties in accordance with your instructions. When you are choosing someone to act as your successor trustee, you should carefully consider all of the duties that will be involved and that individual’s capabilities and reliability when it comes to carrying out such duties.
Understanding the Trust Document
When a person creates a trust, he or she should create a detailed trust document that gives instructions on how to manage and distribute trust property. A successor trustee should be familiar with the provisions in the trust document and always adhere to them.
Management of Assets
A successor trustee will be responsible for managing all trust accounts, including investments, bank accounts, taxes, and more. It is critical that the trustee never commingles trust assets with his or her own assets, and all investments should be prudent and for the benefit of the trust only. Accurate records must be kept regarding all management of the trust.
Notification of Beneficiaries
Trust beneficiaries should be notified of the death of the trust creator and kept informed of any new developments regarding trust property and their rights to distributions from the trust.
Distribution of Assets
The trust document should give instructions for distribution of the trust assets and property. In some cases, this can be relatively straightforward. In others, there may be specific conditions attached to distributions that must be followed, and distributions can continue over an extended period of time.
Perhaps most importantly, a successor trustee has the duty to act with loyalty to the trust and its beneficiaries, to never favor any beneficiaries over others, to not act in self-interest, to act with prudence, and to fulfill other fiduciary duties.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis and St. Charles Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you want to discuss forming a trust or amending a trust document in the St. Louis or St. Charles, Missouri, areas, the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp is here to help. Contact us today at (636) 947-3600 to learn more about our estate planning services.