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Can a beneficiary and trustee be the same individual?

Detroit, MI |
Filed under: Successor trustee

In a living trust, can the beneficiary and trustee be the same person?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Yes. In a revocable living trust that you set up for yourself, very frequently you will be the trustee and the beneficiary during your lifetime, or at least until you become incapacitated and your successor trustee must take over. At that time, you will still be the beneficiary, but your successor trustee will be managing the trust assets for your benefit.

  2. The above answer is correct. I am not licensed to practice in Michigan, but generally, it is very common for the trustee of the living trust to be the beneficiary. It is also not unusual for one of the beneficiaries (such as a surviving spouse, or one of the adult children) to become trustee after the death of the grantor (person that created the trust).

    Less frequently, an individual does not want to serve as the trustee of his or her own revocable living trust, and in that case, someone else would be serving as the trustee while the grantor is the beneficiary.

  3. Yes. Beneficiaries are often trustees. This can be helpful, because the one managing the trust can have an interest in making sure expenses are kept to a minimum.

    However, like many things, there are also risks with this arrangement. There is a risk the trustee might take actions that would favor the trustee/beneficiary over other beneficiaries. The choice of trustee is an important one and comes down to the first five letters of the word "trustee." The good news is there is no automatically wrong answer to whether or not a beneficiary should be named as a trustee, but the bad news is there is no automatically right answer either.

  4. Yes. For example, when you create a living trust, you serve all three major roles of trustmaker, trustee, and beneficiary. Then, if you were to pass, the role of trustee would pass to the successor trustee you have named. The trustee would manage the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

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