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What does a successor trustee do?

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2020 | Estate Planning

Trusts have become a popular option for many people in Virginia who want to plan for the future. They offer a greater level of privacy, flexibility and control than a traditional will while allowing assets to pass to beneficiaries without going through the probate process. When people create trusts, they often remain in control of them throughout their lives or at least until they become incapacitated. In most cases, people will name a successor trustee to manage the assets after they pass away or if they are no longer able to do so themselves. Similar to people who learn that they are the executor of a loved one’s will, people who learn that they are a successor trustee are often unsure of their next steps.

One of the first steps for a successor trustee is to officially take over control of the trust. If the trust creator passed away, a death certificate is typically all that is necessary. If the creator is incapacitated, a letter from a doctor may attest that he or she is unable to manage their affairs. Along with this, the successor trustee will typically make an affidavit or sign a certificate indicating that they are now responsible for the trust. They agree to abide by the terms of the trust and state law in carrying out their duties.

The successor trustee can manage the property in the trust according to its terms, making distributions to beneficiaries or handling investments. This can include selling off real estate, and it could be important to include trust documentation to ensure that a clear title is passed.

When people find themselves managing a trust, they may be confused about the next steps in the process. A trust administration and estate planning attorney may help people to create a trust or manage one moving forward.