Who Should Be My “Back-Up” Trustee?

Living trusts and other forms of trust are a popular method for individuals to provide for the disposition of their assets upon their death while retaining control over and use of these assets during their lifetimes and not exposing themselves to the publicity of probate court. A simple living trust for an individual with a spouse and children usually works as follows:

  • The individual and his or her spouse get to have full control over the trust’s assets during their lifetimes. If one of them becomes incapacitated or unable to make decisions on his or her own behalf, the trustee must use the trust’s assets to meet the living expenses of the incapacitated spouse;
  • Upon the death of both the individual and the spouse, the trustee is ordered to either distribute the trust’s property to the couple’s children (or their legal guardians, if the children are under 18 years of age) or continue to use the trust property to provide for the children’s needs.

The individual or entity chosen to ensure these goals and wishes are carried is called the trustee. While many creators of trusts name themselves as the trustee, it is always wise to have a “back up” trustee named within the trust in case you become mentally or physically unable to manage the trust’s affairs. Who should this back-up individual be? Any trustee should be someone who:

  • You trust to carry out the trust’s instructions carefully and prudently;
  • You trust to look after the best interest of the trust and beneficiaries of the trust;
  • You have spoken with about the duties and responsibilities of being a trustee and who has accepted these duties and responsibilities; and
  • Is familiar with administering a trust, or at least someone who is willing to learn how to do so.

Giro Attorneys at Law, LLC can help you select an appropriate person or entity to act as your trustee in the event you or your spouse cannot. We can also help you if you are the trustee of someone else’s trust and you are confused about how you carry out the duties and responsibilities of the office.

Call us today for help: our office can be reached at (201) 690-1642.


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