Before Naming a Life Partner Success Trustee, Consider These Five Questions

In many cases, naming the person who you are closest to and whom you have shared a life with may be a good choice for a successor trustee of your living trust. Sometimes, that individual is a person who you are in a long-term, committed relationship with, but are not married to. Before appointing anyone successor trustee of a trust when creating an estate plan it is important to think carefully. The successor trustee may have the most important role of all when it comes to administering your trust or estate.

Five Questions to Consider When Naming a Life Partner Successor Trustee

If you are considering naming your life partner successor trustee of your trust as you create your estate plan, consider carefully the following five questions:

  1. Is your partner the beneficiary of some or most of your assets? If so, you may want to carefully consider whether you want him or her to also be in charge of managing and distributing those assets. In some cases, it may be better to separate these two roles.
  2. Does your partner live locally? While it is not a requirement that a successor trustee live locally, it can make the trust administration process somewhat easier when they are easy to reach and readily available.
  3. Does your partner have a good relationship with your family members? If not, carefully consider whom you appoint as successor trustee of your trust. If the surviving partner is in charge of administering trust assets that are for the benefit of the family members that he or she does not get along with, the surviving unmarried spouse may not be a good choice. You may be better off naming a neutral third-party to serve as successor trustee.
  4. Does your partner have a good understanding of your estate planning goals and the assets that you possess? This is important because the successor trustee will be tasked with carrying out your wishes and taking care of your property prior to distribution.
  5. Is your partner responsible? The role of successor trustee is very important. This individual is in charge of managing your affairs, protecting the trust assets, and ensuring that the trust administration process takes place in accordance with the law. If your partner tends to be irresponsible, think carefully before you appoint him or her to serve in this role. You may be better off naming a professional trustee instead.

Did these questions give you something to consider as you debate who to appoint successor trustee of your trust? If so, we encourage you to share it with your friends and family on Facebook!

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm
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