What happens if my successor trustee does not want to do the job?

As you create your estate plan, your attorney will educate you on the ins and outs of living trusts—and how they work after you have passed away. The individual that you name as your successor trustee is the person who will be in charge of carrying out your wishes. It is important to choose not just one successor trustee, but also a backup. Why? The original person that you chose may be unwilling or unable to serve.

Why a Successor Trustee Might Decline

Some people make the mistake of saying that they are certain their successor trustee will accept his appointment. Life is unpredictable, however, and we do not know what might happen when the time comes for the trust administration to start. Following are some of the many reasons that a successor trustee might refuse the appointment:

  1. The successor trustee may have predeceased you.
  2. The successor trustee may be living overseas.
  3. The successor trustee may be disabled.
  4. The successor trustee may simply be too busy to carry out the many duties of the job.
  5. The successor trustee may not feel comfortable accepting this level of responsibility.

Ideally, when a successor trustee turns down the job, you have named a backup in your trust. If not, however, a different trustee will be appointed depending on the terms of your trust. The trust may say that the majority of beneficiaries can appoint a trustee. Alternatively, the Superior Court of California in Orange County or another court that has proper jurisdiction over the trust, may appoint a trustee. It is always most efficient to simply name the person who you would like to serve as the backup to your successor trustee when you are creating your trust.

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