Greg is the son of Mike and Carol Bradee. Greg’s parents told him many years ago that they named him as Successor Trustee in their Trust. Mike died last year, leaving Carol to manage everything on her own. Now, Carol is experiencing significant memory loss and confusion and her physician has told Greg she should no longer be handling financial matters. Greg wants to be sure her financial matters are properly managed and is willing to step in and help. What does he need to do? What will his new role entail?  

In general, a Successor Trustee is the person or entity designated in the Trust who assumes management control of the trust assets after the initial Trustee(s) resign, die, or become incapacitated. In this instance, the Successor Trustee will be responsible for managing the trust assets and making distributions and payments for Carol’s benefit during her lifetime. After Carol’s death, the Successor Trustee shall distribute the trust estate to the Bradee’s children, after payment of all outstanding debts, expenses and taxes. 

To assume the role of Successor Trustee, Greg must first “prove” Carol’s incapacity as required under the terms of the Trust. In this case, the Trust requires one sworn physician statement that Carol is no longer able to handle her financial matters. Greg talks with the doctor and obtains the written statement. Next, Greg must provide written evidence of his appointment and acceptance as acting Successor Trustee to all financial institutions holding trust accounts in order to remove Carol’s name as Trustee of record on the trust accounts and add his name as acting Successor Trustee of record. Typically, he will need to sign an Affidavit of Appointment of Successor Trustee with the medical statement of incapacity attached and a new Certification of Trust to the various financial institutions. Each financial institution will also likely have their own forms and documents to be completed by Greg.  Note, if Greg were stepping up to act as Successor Trustee due to Carol’s death the process would be similar, except that he would need her death certificate rather than the medical statement of incapacity. 

Serving as Trustee carries with it significant fiduciary responsibilities and can be a big role to take on. If you need to assume the role as Successor Trustee or are acting as Successor Trustee, please contact our office to get the assistance and legal advice you need in fulfilling your duties. We can offer a deeper dive of what the Successor Trustee’s responsibilities are and how best to fulfill them, along with preparation of the Affidavit of Appointment of Successor Trustee and Certification of Trust or other documents as may be required by the terms of the Trust. Call 480-922-1010 or email info@bivenslaw.com to schedule your appointment.