A successor trustee is an individual (or entity) designated in a Trust to take on the role of Trustee if the first person designated (the primary trustee) is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties.
This could be due to many different reasons such as death, incapacity, resignation, or any other type of disqualification.
A trustee is responsible for managing and administering the assets held within a trust according to the terms and instructions outlined in the trust document.
Key points about a successor trustee include:
Order of Succession: The trust document typically specifies the order of succession for successor trustees. If the primary trustee is unable to serve, the named successor trustee assumes the role. There may be multiple levels of successors outlined in the trust document to address various contingencies.
Fiduciary Responsibilities: Like the primary trustee, the successor trustee has Fiduciary responsibilities to act in the Best Interests of Beneficiaries and adhere to the terms of the trust. They are responsible for managing and investing trust Assets, distributing income and principal to beneficiaries, and fulfilling all other duties as outlined in the trust document.
Not Always Necessary: In some cases, the primary trustee may be able to continue their duties without the need for the successor trustee to step in. However, having a successor trustee designated in the trust provides an additional level of preparedness and ensures that there is someone ready to take over if needed.
Trust Document Authority: The authority of the successor trustee to act as trustee is derived directly from the trust document itself. Once the conditions for their appointment are met, they can assume the role without the need for court approval.
It's important to speak with an Estate Attorney advice when creating a trust to ensure that the document is properly drafted, complies with applicable laws, and accurately reflects the grantor's wishes for the management and distribution of trust assets.