Managing assets as a successor trustee

| Jan 20, 2020 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Trusts are a popular choice for many people in Michigan who want greater flexibility and options when planning for how their assets can support their loved ones. Not only do they allow property to transfer outside the probate system, but they can create structures to support minor children, people with special needs and other beneficiaries on an ongoing basis. When many people create their trusts, they are responsible for managing them during their lives and can make changes and amendments to their plans as necessary. In most cases, people name a successor trustee to take over the management of the trust after they become incapacitated or pass away.

In some cases, people may name a professional agency, attorney or financial advisor to act as a trustee, particularly if the trust is large and complex and requires ongoing distributions. People may want to avoid conflicts of interest between the successor trustee and various beneficiaries. In other cases, naming a loved one as a successor trustee is a better choice, especially if the trust is smaller and manageable. Still, people may be confused about what their next steps are when it becomes time to take on responsibility for the trust.

If the trust’s creator has died, a copy of the death certificate is typically all the successor trustee needs. If the trust’s creator is incapacitated, a letter from a doctor may help to establish that fact. The successor trustee can then sign an affidavit or a certificate attesting to their role and pledging to carry out the instructions of the trust and abide by state law.

Successor trustees can manage the property involved in the trust, including selling real estate and other assets to provide the proceeds to the beneficiaries. An estate planning and trust administration lawyer may provide guidance on creating and managing a trust successfully.