What Are the Responsibilities of a Successor Trustee?

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The main role of a successor trustee is to manage your revocable living trust once you have, unfortunately, passed away. But there are other critical responsibilities that you must be made aware of before you appoint someone to this very important position. Read on to discover the responsibilities of a successor trustee and how a seasoned Putnam County trusts attorney at the Law Office of Andres D. Gil, PLLC can help you determine whether a certain individual could be the right fit for this role.

What are the main responsibilities of a successor trustee?

The role of a successor trustee should not be taken lightly. This is because, above all else, this individual holds a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of a grantor’s beneficiaries. So any breach of this fiduciary duty may lead to personal liability and subsequently legal consequences. Without further ado, the basic responsibilities that one should expect are as follows:

  • This individual must effectively manage the trust’s assets (i.e., real estate property, stock options, etc).
  • The individual must efficiently prepare the trust’s tax and regulatory filings, along with seeking professional advice as needed.
  • This individual must impartially distribute the trust’s assets to the appropriate beneficiaries, as set out by the grantor’s clear instructions.

What happens if my successor trustee does not want to take on this responsibility?

It would be best if you were as transparent as possible with the individual you wish to step into the role of your successor trustee. You do not want this individual to be blindsided upon realizing their appointment to take on this responsibility. What’s worse, you do not want this individual to ultimately decline this responsibility.

If this rejection happens, then a different successor may be appointed according to the terms of your revocable living trust. For example, you may have instructed your beneficiaries to conduct a majority rule on who should be the replacement. But if you do not have such instructions outlined in your trust, then a New York surrogate’s court may appoint a successor trustee on your behalf.

With all things considered, it would also be best if you were to appoint co-successor trustees. This is so that, at the very least, two or more individuals may split up and better manage this responsibility. Or, this may help if one individual later regrets accepting this responsibility; becomes ineligible to accept this responsibility; or otherwise passes on before you.

We understand that you may be intimidated by the process that lies ahead of you. But this may be made easier by having a competent Putnam County estate planning attorney stand by your side throughout. So please reach out to the Law Office of Andres D. Gil, PLLC at your earliest possible convenience.

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