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Installing Your Successor Trustee

Most of our clients understand the benefits of the living, revocable trust. One obvious benefit is that at the trust creator’s death, the named successor trustee can step in very easily and administer the estate generally without the involvement of the court system. When the trust creator dies, a death certificate is provided and our office prepares a document called the “Affidavit of Successor Trustee” which gets filed in the counties where real property is located; this document is also provided to banks, investment companies, etc. and allows the successor trustee to gain control of these accounts for ultimate distribution.

We advise our clients with trusts to be aware that they don’t have to wait until death to bring in the successor trustee. If the trust creator is getting to the point where they want to slow down and let their successor trustee assist in taking care of the trust assets, paying bills, collecting rents, etc., then the trust creator can execute a document naming the successor trustee as a current trustee. That successor trustee can take the document to the bank and thereby have power to write checks to pay bills, handle investments and so forth. Then at the trust creator’s death, the successor trustee is already on the accounts and so can begin immediately to carry out the trust creator’s wishes. If you feel like you could use the help of your named successor trustee, you might want to consider naming them as a current trustee with you. Just be sure that the person you name is “trustworthy”.

-Attorney Mark L. Dodds