Estate Planning Law

What happens if all the trustees of a trust have passed away?

It’s a fair question to ask, especially if you are the grantor. You want to know what will come of your assets in the event that there’s no one else written in to take control of your trust. Here at Doane & Doane, we want you to be prepared for the future. The better you understand how trusts and estate planning work, the easier it will be for you to rest easy and relax after establishing your trust. As always, it’s important to have a qualified trust lawyer in your corner to assist you in all of your estate planning needs.

At Doane & Doane, that’s precisely why we’re here. Our clients know that our services are among the very best in Southeast Florida and that they can trust us to ensure the safety and security of their assets. To give you the peace of mind that your trust will be safe if all of your trustees pass away, let’s continue reading for more information.

All My Trustees Passed Away. Now What?

If there is a co-trustee, just like a joint trust, the surviving co-trustee will usually become the sole trustee. This remains true unless you specifically stipulated to have a different clause in your trust agreement). In any event, your co-trustee (who is now the sole trustee) will continue to manage your trust as usual and in accordance with your instructions. When they pass away, a successor trustee takes control of your trust.

Furthermore, let’s assume that you were also the trustee of a revocable trust. In this case, the successor trustee will take over the duties of the trustee, thus taking your place in terms of trust management. It is very common for the grantor to perform these two roles through a revocable living trust. Once they pass, the revocable living trust becomes irrevocable.

However, in the event that the grantor isn’t the trustee, the successor trustee will take over the grantor’s duties. Someone besides the grantor usually serves as the trustee when there’s an irrevocable trust. These types of trusts are not easy to dissolve. However, they do have some additional benefits worth mentioning, such as reduced inheritance taxes.

Moreover, in the event that the grantor failed to detail who should be the successor trustee, it becomes the probate court’s responsibility to appoint someone. The family of a trust beneficiary or grantor can apply to the court to recommend someone. The trustee is an important part of the trust, so be sure to appoint one. If you choose to establish a trust through a will, called a testamentary trust, make sure to include a successor trustee in the will. 

Responsibilities of the Successor Trustee

The successor trustee does everything required of the trustee. Since the former takes the place of the latter under the right circumstances, the successor trustee should familiarize themselves with what will be expected of them should they have to take over duties controlling the trust. 

Let’s take a moment to explore some of the expected responsibilities of the trustee — responsibilities that the new successor trustee will likewise be expected to resume.

1. Distribute the assets in the trust to beneficiaries (but only when the trust’s terms have been met).
2. Make payments on trust taxes (this includes estate taxes when the trustor passes away).
3. Maintain any property within the trust.

Your trust lawyer can help you in these matters. At Doane & Doane, we have many years of experience helping our clients choose the right successors for trusts, as well as many other estate planning matters. So when it comes time for you to plan your estate, you can trust that our legal experts will guide you in the right direction.

If you have yet to establish a trust or your estate planning, we encourage you to contact Doane & Doane right away. Our trust lawyer will assist you in establishing a trust that ensures the safety and protection of your assets and property.

And if you need help assigning beneficiaries and successors, we will act as an impartial third party. As such, we will be able to provide you with objective advice so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones.

Doane & Doane Is Stuart’s Trusted Source for Estate Planning 

Doane & Doane was founded in 2003 remains one of the most trusted and respected estate planning firms in Southeast Florida. If you need assistance establishing an estate plan, protecting your assets, or any other related issues, please contact us at 561-656-0200. Alternatively, you can always fill out our online contact form, and we will promptly respond to your inquiry.

The information in this blog post is for reference only and not legal advice. As such, you should not decide whether to contact a lawyer based on the information in this blog post. Moreover, there is no lawyer-client relationship resulting from this blog post, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you need legal counsel, please consult a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.