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Whom should I choose as my Successor Trustee?


Not everyone has trustworthy, or financially savvy children that can take over their estate when they die. Indeed, even if we have children, they may be too young, or not sophisticated enough to handle the rigors of being in charge of the decedent’s estate.

Selecting a successor trustee for your trust is an important decision, as this individual will be responsible for managing and distributing the trust assets according to your wishes. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a successor trustee:

Trustworthiness: Look for someone you trust implicitly, as the successor trustee will have significant control over your assets. They should be honest, reliable, and have a strong sense of integrity.

Financial responsibility: Consider someone who has financial acumen and the ability to manage assets effectively. A successor trustee should be capable of making informed investment decisions and handling financial matters responsibly. While this is desirable, it is not a “must”, as the successor trustee can hire the necessary experts to help them with the administration of an estate.

Legal and administrative competence: A successor trustee could possess the necessary legal and administrative skills to fulfill their duties, but again, they can hire lawyers, accountants, and those necessary to help them, so long as the Estate Plan provides them this authority. It may be a good idea for a successor trustee to talk to a lawyer when they assume the mantle of trustee, as they will be responsible for complying with relevant laws and regulations, preparing tax documents, and managing paperwork.

Objectivity and impartiality: Depending on the purpose of your trust, impartiality might be crucial. Consider someone who can act in the best interests of the beneficiaries without favoritism or conflicts of interest.

Availability and longevity: Ideally, choose a trustee who is likely to be available and willing to serve as a trustee for the long term. This person should be committed to carrying out their responsibilities diligently over an extended period.

Knowledge of your wishes: It can be beneficial to select a trustee who understands your intentions and wishes. They should be familiar with your values, preferences, and goals to ensure your trust is managed in accordance with your desires.

Professional expertise: Depending on the complexity of your assets or the provisions of your trust, you might consider hiring a professional trustee such as a trust company or an attorney experienced in trust administration. They can provide expertise and ensure proper management of the trust.

Remember, choosing a trustee is a personal decision, and it’s important to consider your unique circumstances. Consult with an attorney at Surratt Law Practice or a financial advisor who understands the importance of these decisions to receive personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs.

By Travis Clark, Esq.

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