How to Prepare Your Successor Trustee for Your Legacy

If you have a living revocable trust, the person who manages and distributes your property after your death is called the successor trustee. It is not an easy job sometimes, and so you should consider preparing the successor trustee the best you can.

Here are three ways to prepare your estate plan for easier administration by your successor trustee:

1. Keep it simple.

Your estate plan should be prepared as simply as possible while accomplishing your objectives. If your beneficiaries do not understand what they are receiving, conflicts can arise.  And if your successor trustee has a different interpretation of your trust than you do, your wishes might not be carried out.  Avoid some of the common pitfalls.  For example, you might choose to make percentage distributions to your children rather than set amounts of money or property.

2. Keep it organized.

Your estate plan should be kept all together in a safe place, such as a file cabinet drawer or even a safe deposit box. Wherever it is located, please be sure to tell your successor of where and how to find it. It is a good idea to keep all real property deeds, insurance policies, recent bank and investment account statements, and other important papers with you estate planning documents.

3. Keep it current.

Remember this: a living trust is a living document, and living things need care to survive and thrive. If you created a living trust within the last 12 months, you may check again to ensure your real property has been properly titled into the trust (known as trust funding). If you created your trust 3 years ago, you might review it again to ensure all beneficiaries are listed according to your wishes. If your trust is more than 10 years old, you may have it reviewed by a qualified trust lawyer to ensure it complies with current laws and carries out your wishes adequately.

You have a living revocable trust for many reasons, some of which include (1) avoiding probate, (2) allowing for easier distributions, and (3) giving peace of mind to you and your family. If you prepare a good estate plan and then maintain it regularly, you can expect that your plan will be carried out according to your wishes, and with less effort by your successor trustee.