Helping your successor trustee succeed - person with baton on the starting mark of a race

Helping Your Successor Trustee Succeed

At Phelps LaClair in the Phoenix Valley, Living Trusts (and in particular, Revocable Living Trusts) are a mainstay of our estate planning. But for a living trust to be entirely effective, several steps need to be taken. First comes the important task of fully funding the trust. Next, it’s essential to appoint a trusted, capable Successor Trustee who will take over all the responsibilities of administering your estate after you’ve passed away. Third, helping your successor trustee succeed will mean giving them crucial information long before they need to step into their role.

Helping Your Successor Trustee succeed

The Successor Trustee takes your place as your estate’s Trust Administrator after you die. As such, they need to be ready for their job. Regardless of the size of your estate, those responsibilities could be far-reaching and require due diligence. How can you help them make an effective transition into their role as successor trustee? Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Documents. Make sure your Successor Trustee has a copy of all your estate documents, and that they know where your originals are kept.
  • Contact Information. Sit down with them and give them contact information for all your financial institutions. You might even take a field trip together and introduce them to each representative at all of your financial institutions.
  • Access. Be certain each of your financial institutions has a legal document on file that names your Successor Trustee. This will give your Successor Trustee immediate access so they can move ahead with their job when the time comes.
  • Pave the way. Communicate to each of your beneficiaries the name of your Successor Trustee. Let them know you have chosen this person to assume the role of administering your estate after you’ve passed away. With your affirmation of their leadership, their job is made easier.
  • Review your trust documents together. Review with your Successor Trustee all the paperwork that you and your estate planning lawyer have created. And let them know about any other important persons you’ve named, like your durable financial power of attorney and your durable power of attorney for healthcare. Giving them this information ahead of time will help avoid confusion and enable them to work with others in fulfilling their responsibilities.
  • Your law firm. And lastly, be sure they know and/or have met your estate planning lawyer(s). No Successor Trustee should attempt to do their job without legal counsel coming alongside to guide them. Working with professional counsel as they step into their role of Trust Administrator can protect them from personal liability and assure that everything is being done according to your wishes as the creator of the trust.

Preparing Your Successor Trustee for Their Role

Being a Successor Trustee is no small task. Handling finances; stewarding investments; distributing inheritances; settling debts; fulfilling your wishes; these are just a few of the responsibilities they will face after you’ve passed away. So you want to do your part in helping your Successor Trustee succeed at their job. At Phelps LaClair, located in Phoenix, Chandler, and Mesa Arizona, we understand what’s needed in order to create a successful platform for the effective transfer of your financial assets. If you’re looking for an estate planning firm in the Phoenix Valley, contact our offices or give us a call. Better yet, sign up for one of our free estate planning seminars and come to meet us in person!



Images used under creative commons license (Commercial Use) 11/16/18 Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

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