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A Revocable Living Trust has three key players – Trustor, Initial Trustee and Beneficiary. A Trustor creates the Trust; the Initial Trustee manages the trust assets; and the Beneficiary is typically the Trustor/Trustee who benefits from the trust assets.

A Successor Trustee is an individual or corporation that is named in a Revocable Living Trust who has the fiduciary duty to carry out all financial decisions should the Initial Trustee of the Trust be unable to act. Typically there are two situations when the Successor Trustee steps into act – 1) when the Initial Trustee passes away; and 2) if the Initial Trustee becomes incapacitated.

A Trust must contain the necessary provisions addressing how and when a Successor Trustee has the authority to make the financial decisions should the Initial Trustee become incapacitated. If a Trust is silent as to incapacity, then the court may have to get involved should the Initial Trustee not be able to make his/her financial decisions.


When I sit down with my clients, I explain the role of a Successor Trustee as someone that is on the back burner of a stove, just waiting to step in and help should the Initial Trustee become incapacitated or pass away. I further explain to my clients that it can be very beneficial to involve the named Successor Trustee in future trust reviews to be able to explain their role in the Trust. There have been many times during such a review that the Successor Trustee had no idea they could step in on incapacity and thought their role was only after their loved one passed away.

The most common times that we have the privilege of meeting our client’s Successor Trustees happen during the holiday time of Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you would like to have a review of your trust alongside your Successor Trustee, during any time of the year, please call us and schedule an appointment.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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