People with revocable living trusts often name a family member (spouse, oldest child, etc.) as their successor trustee. The successor trustee is who takes over the administrative duties for the trust in the event you become incapacitated or die.
However, naming only one successor is probably not enough. It is better to name a secondary successor trustee in case the first one is unable to serve as trustee when the time actually arrives. There are a number of reasons this may happen, including the following:
You could both be injured or die in a common accident
If your spouse is the only person you wanted to be your successor trustee and you are both in an accident together, especially if you died in this accident and your spouse was incapacitated, this would add even more to the chaos and stress of the situation if there is not another successor trustee named. Your family might need to go through (and pay for) the court process to get a new trustee in place. This process would take away from the time and money needed to care for your spouse and for your family’s needs during this time, which isn’t at all what you had in mind when setting up a trust. Even if you name a family member other than your spouse as successor trustee, an accident that affects you both could still occur and leave your family in this type of situation.
Your chosen successor may not be able to serve
There are a number of reasons why a successor trustee may become unable or unwilling to serve. You chose this person very carefully, but life is unpredictable. This individual could precede you in death, could be too ill when you pass away to take on this responsibility, or could otherwise prove to be too irresponsible or untrustworthy to serve as successor trustee.
Naming more than one successor trustee can avoid a lot of unnecessary grief and difficulty and ensure that your trust fulfills the goals you have in mind for it. Having an estate plan that serves you best requires a lot of experience and ability to plan for potential problems, so it’s important to work with someone who can help you make sure your estate plan is designed to accomplish your goals according to your wishes.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC