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What Does a Successor Trustee Do After the Trustmaker Dies?

Settling Your Revocable Living Trust

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In setting up your Revocable Living Trust, you'll be asked to name a Successor Trustee to administer and settle your trust after you die. In addition to selecting your first choice, you should also name one or more backup Trustees just in case your first choice isn't available to serve.

Duties and Responsibilities of Your Successor Trustee

Your Successor Trustee will have the following duties and responsibilities after you die:

  • Locating and protecting your trust assets.

  • Collecting life insurance policies, annuities, and retirement accounts of which your Revocable Living Trust has been named as the primary beneficiary.

  • Coordinating with the Personal Representative of your estate if probate is necessary.

  • Obtaining the date of death values for all of your trust assets, including appraisals of real estate and business interests.

  • Determining who you owed money to and then paying off these debts.

  • Figuring out your income tax, estate tax and/or inheritance tax liabilities.

  • Preparing and filing all required income tax, estate tax and/or inheritance tax returns.

  • Paying the ongoing expenses of administering your trust until it can be terminated and what is left can be distributed to your beneficiaries.

  • Raising the cash necessary to pay off your debts, the ongoing expenses of administering the trust, and income tax, estate tax and/or inheritance tax liabilities.

  • Investing and managing your trust assets until they can be distributed to your beneficiaries.

  • And, finally, distributing what’s left of your trust fund after all of the bills have been paid to the trust's beneficiaries.

As you can see, serving as a Successor Trustee is a huge responsibility and often time-consuming burden. But with the help of your estate planning attorney, you should be able to choose the right person or institution for the job.

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