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Trusts: What is the purpose of a successor trustee?

When a person in New York sets up an irrevocable trust, another party is appointed as the trustee to administer the trust from the date of establishment. However, different types of trusts serve various purposes, and when a revocable trust is established, the trust maker can administer the trust him or herself. A successor trustee will be appointed to take over if the trust maker becomes debilitated and unable to manage the trust -- or when the trustor dies.

The person setting up a revocable trust has different options. He or she may want the assets and properties in the trust to be distributed to the beneficiaries upon his or her death, in which case the trustee must follow the directives of the document to settle the trust. Conversely, the trustor may want the trust to continue after the maker's death, in which case the successor trustee's duties will continue.

This may be the case when the trust maker is a parent with property meant for minor children. Typically, the trustee will then continue to manage the trust until the children reach an age determined by the trustor, for the property to be transferred into their names. In the interim, the trustee must distribute funds as prescribed to the guardians of the minors to cover their care.

A successor trustee who manages a trust that is not settled upon the trustor's death has a host of other duties, making this a significant responsibility. A New York resident who is named as a successor trustee might have many questions about his or her duties. The most logical step might be to consult with an attorney who is experienced in the administration of trusts and other estate planning matters.

Source: thebalance.com, "What Does a Successor Trustee Do After You Die?", Julie Garber, Sept. 29, 2017

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