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If you have named children, family, or friends as a successor trustee of your family trust, they likely do not know what the job entails.  Our office encourages talking with successor Trustees now to eliminate some of the unknowns about what it means to serve in this role.

In a standard revocable family trust, a husband and wife are listed as co-trustees during their lifetime.  Only when both spouses pass away, does a successor trustee step in to administer the family trust.

In a nutshell, a successor trustee’s job is to secure all of a decedent’s assets and distribute those assets according to the terms of the trust.  The trustee can be thought of as a “manager,” who keeps an accurate account of all amounts received and any expenses paid out.

Responsibility Ahead ImageThe first job of a successor trustee is to gather information about all of the assets the individual(s) owned prior to passing away.  The length and work required depends on the particular assets and how well records were kept.

To complete this job, the successor trustee will need to have a Certification or Affidavit of Trust proving that the Trust is in existence and a certified Death Certificate.

Once trust assets have been discovered, such assets will likely need to be sold or liquidated.  All proceeds should be deposited into a checking account in the name of the Family Trust.  Trust assets that cannot be sold right away should be maintained and updated.

The successor trustee should keep a running inventory of the assets coming in and any expenses paid out.  Taxes will still need to be filed, and known creditors may need to be paid.

Once all creditors and taxes have been paid and assets are liquidated, distributions according to the trust terms can begin.  The trustees should have the beneficiaries sign a form acknowledging receipt of their inheritance and releasing the trustee from any liability.

For more details on the role of successor Trustees, come to one of our future seminars.  We will be discussing these roles and more!!!  Take a look at our upcoming events by clicking here!

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