When thinking about the future of your family, it can be difficult to imagine how you want things to be when you are no longer here. Those who want to ensure part of their legacy is passed on to certain loved ones often meet with an attorney for assistance in writing a living trust. In such a document, you are to name yourself as the trustee so you still have control over your assets. Then, the person you appoint as the successor trustee is who shall handle your finances and follow the wishes as described in your trust after you pass on.
Below we have provided more information about the role and potential characteristics of your chosen successor trustee.
Duties of a Successor Trustee
Your successor trustee has a very important role to play in carrying out your wishes as requested in your trust. The person you appoint should be someone you can rely on to not breach his or her fiduciary duty when handling your assets. This duty is a legal obligation to act based on what is in your best interest. Other duties your successor trustee may be responsible for are listed as follows:
- Paying outstanding debts to creditors
- Filing decedent’s final income tax return
- Handling paying remaining bills
- Transferring assets to designated beneficiaries
- Meeting with beneficiaries or loved ones
- Requesting appraisals (for collections, artwork, treasures, property)
- Choosing to sell assets to help pay off debts
The Appeal of Trusts
Many people choose to create a living trust because of the level of privacy it offers. The successor of the trustee can handle the trust without being supervised by the court system. Even established wills sometimes have to go through probate court, where the will is evaluated for validity and beneficiaries receive their portion of assets only after judge approval. With a living trust, these regulations do not apply.
Who To Choose as Your Successor
The person you appoint to handle your assets and wishes after you pass, all depends on your personal preference. There is no rule about who you can or cannot choose to fulfill this role. However, this person must be of legal adult age and should have your best interest in mind always. Your successor does not have to be experienced in legalities either, as an attorney can be of guidance. Other characteristics of the right successor for you may include:
- Reliable & responsible
- Maintains integrity
- Has sound judgement
- Can be objective
Writing a living trust can seem like a daunting and complicated task. Not only that, but it can be an emotional one as well. A New Jersey trust lawyer can help you keep things moving when you get stuck, and answer any questions you have along the way. We like to offer free consultations for all new clients, as a way to get to know us and our services better. We would be happy to meet with you to talk further about how we can be of help, as you establish this very important document.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Klenk Law for their knowledge about trusts and estate planning.