A successor trustee can be an individual or an institution. The successor trustee is often a surviving spouse or family member. After death, deadlines come into play for notification of interested parties and filing of tax returns. Depending on the nature of trust assets and the complexity of the trust terms, the trust may require outright or delayed distributions and ongoing management of property. We provide counseling to trustees in discharging their legal duties. From time to time, we also serve as trustee.
An individual or corporate trustee may select any attorney and change representation at any time. In selecting an attorney, the trustee is subject to the prudent person standard and act for the benefit of the trust estate.
The trustee is a fiduciary with respect to the beneficiary. She must put the beneficiary’s interests before her own. Her mission is to protect the beneficiary.
As attorneys, we have a duty to maintain our client’s confidences and secrets.
Example 1: Uncle Zeke died childless. During life, he created a living trust for the benefit of himself during his life. At death however, an irrevocable subtrust was created for the benefit of his nieces and nephews. Every year for the rest of their lives each named niece and nephew is to receive $12,000. The trustee of this trust is thus charged with making annual distributions, filing tax returns for the trust, and investing the corpus prudently.