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What Are Successor Trustee Duties When the Grantor Has Passed?

As the Successor Trustee of a Trust, there are several actions you'll need to take once the Grantor passes away. Learn more with this detailed guide.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

Being named a Successor Trustee is a position of trust and responsibility. When the Grantor (the individual who established the Trust) passes away, the baton is passed to you to take on the duties of managing and settling the trust. This can feel daunting to navigate, especially while processing your personal loss.

This guide aims to help simplify your path ahead. It will outline the key duties you're expected to fulfill as Successor Trustee following the Grantor's passing. We'll detail these Successor Trustee duties in such a way that will make the process as straightforward and actionable as possible. Keep reading to learn more about your important role.

Successor Trustee Duties Upon Death of the Grantor

As a Successor Trustee, it's essential to remember that your duties are bound by the Trust document and state laws. When the Grantor named you for this position in the Trust document, they did so with the intent that you would diligently and conscientiously fulfill their wishes. If you ever feel overwhelmed, remember that this person trusted you with the role for a reason. No one is expected to be a professional right off the bat.

The Successor Trustee's duties can be minimal and simple, or wide-ranging and complex depending on the nature of the Trust and the assets held within it. Everything from legal paperwork to financial management can fall under your purview. But don't worry, we're here to break down these duties for you.

Now, let's delve into the key duties you'll need to undertake as a Successor Trustee after the Grantor's passing:

  • Notify the Grantor's family and loved ones that you are the designated Successor Trustee.

  • Provide Beneficiaries listed in the Declaration of Trust with copies of the document.

  • Obtain certified copies of the Grantor's death certificate, as they may be required to establish the Successor Trustee's legal authority to administer the trust assets.

  • Gather information about the assets held within the Trust and take necessary steps to ensure their security and protection.

  • If the Grantor included bank accounts in the Trust, inform the relevant banks to gain access to them.

  • Likewise, inform the Social Security Administration, life insurance companies, retirement plans, and other organizations that will provide death benefits to the Grantor.

  • Collaborate with the Executor of the Grantor's Will to settle any outstanding bills and taxes using trust assets. Keep records of all expenses paid.

  • If the Grantor's Will is a "Pour-Over Will" that designates the Trust as the Beneficiary of any remaining property not included in the Trust, work with the Executor to transfer this property to the Trust.

  • Close accounts that are no longer needed, such as credit cards, phone, and internet service accounts. However, it may be beneficial to maintain utility accounts and insurance policies to preserve the value of the associated assets.

  • Distribute the Trust property to the Beneficiaries specified in the Declaration of Trust. Prioritize instructions that involve specific pieces of property being distributed to specific Beneficiaries before addressing broader instructions for the distribution of general and remaining assets. (Note that you may need to conduct an estate sale to convert remaining assets into cash for distribution.)

For a more detailed step-by-step guide on how to navigate the intricate duties of a Successor Trustee, check out our article, “Successor Trustee Step by Step Guide.” This checklist will provide comprehensive instructions and tips to provide clarity on the process.

Create Your Trust and Name Your Successor Trustee with the Help of Trust & Will

This guide provided an informative overview of a Successor Trustee's responsibilities following the death of a Grantor. Trust administration is a complex task involving many steps, from notifying Beneficiaries to managing and distributing Trust assets. Understanding these duties is crucial for a Successor Trustee. With the help of our detailed guide, successors can navigate these responsibilities with confidence and ensure a smoother transition process.

Creating your own Living Trust and appointing a Successor Trustee is a proactive approach that ensures your wishes are honored and implemented upon your passing. A well-crafted Trust articulates your preferred distribution of assets, which your Successor Trustee will uphold diligently. This process minimizes the likelihood of misunderstandings or disputes among Beneficiaries and provides peace of mind that your legacy will be managed according to your wishes.

Taking the initiative to create your Trust today not only provides clarity for your Successor Trustee but also offers financial advantages for your Beneficiaries by potentially minimizing estate taxes and avoiding Probate. It's a step towards guaranteeing that your wealth serves the purposes you value most.

Trust & Will is committed to making the process of creating your Trust simple and hassle-free. Visit our Trust and Estate Planning Page to start your journey. Our user-friendly platform demystifies the process and guides you every step of the way, so you can set up your Trust and name your Successor Trustee with ease. Start your estate plan today and rest easy knowing your wishes will be respected and carried out.

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Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.