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The Role of a Successor Trustee

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2020 | Estate Planning

Trusts are legal instruments that can benefit people as part of an estate plan. When you create a living trust, you will serve as the trustee while you are alive and have the mental capacity to do so. However, if something happens to you, you will need someone to take over as the successor trustee. It is important to understand this individual’s role so you can designate the right person.

Administering the Trust

There are many tasks involved in administering a trust following someone’s death, and the specific responsibilities will vary depending on the circumstances of the trust. Some responsibilities might include:

  • Managing the trust property, including making investment decisions
  • Paying all necessary bills and taxes from the trust
  • Keeping beneficiaries informed of the state of the trust property
  • Distributing trust property to beneficiaries as instructed in the trust document

Sometimes, trust distributions take place over many years, especially if a beneficiary is a minor or young adult. Distributing property is not always a one-time occurrence, so you want someone willing to serve as the trustee for as long as needed.

Fiduciary Duty

A trustee will owe the beneficiaries a fiduciary duty, which is the highest legal standard of care. A trustee must prudently manage the trust, not engage in self-serving or biased conduct, not waste trust property, and much more. Not everyone is able to fulfill this duty, either due to inherent bias to a beneficiary or lack of financial management skills.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer in California Today

At Furubotten Law, we help clients create trusts and select the right successor trustee. Trusts can be highly beneficial, and you should discuss this option with a California estate planning attorney. We have offices located in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Murrieta, so please contact us for more information.