Successor and Contingent Trustees
*Estate Planning for the Unexpected *
Sometimes a Last Will and Testament instructs the personal representative to establish a trust for the benefit of minors or people with diminished mental capacity. A testator (the person who is designating gifts and trustees) also assigns the responsibility of trustee to someone in whom he has the highest level of trust. The trustee is responsible for managing money and protecting the assets for the testator’s beneficiaries so the trustee is held to a high fiduciary duty.
The language in the Trust or in the Will should plan for every possible situation in which a trustee or guardian may be unavailable to serve in the role assigned. There should be a “successor trustee". The successor trustee takes over the role of trustee if the primary trustee is not able to fulfill the role of Trustee for any reason (or if the Trustee chooses not to take on that role). A will should list as many successor trustees as he sees fit based on the likelihood that one or more may not be able or willing to serve. The will or trust can also be drafted to allow the trustee to choose his own successor if the designated trustee is unable to take on the role.