What is a Revocable Living Trust? Click play on the video above to learn more about revocable living trusts and how they can assist you with your estate planning needs. A living trust can be an incredibly valuable and powerful tool when it comes to estate planning. A revocable living trust is a legal arrangement, used by estate planners that allows assets to be held and managed by a third party. This third party in a trust is known as a Trustee. The Trustee is the person or group of people responsible for ensuring that an estate is handled in the manner specified in the trust documents.
A revocable living trust lets you decide how your assets are managed and distributed. A living trust holds (owns) the property you put into the trust. Unless specifically stated in the language of the living trust, you are permitted to control the trust assets as the trustee while you are living. Upon your death, the living trust becomes irrevocable and the assets in your trust will be distributed to the beneficiaries that you have designated.
The person who creates the living trust, is usually referred to as a settlor or grantor. The successor trustee is the person or institution who takes over the management of a living trust when the original trustee (typically you) has passed or become incapacitated. The beneficiaries of the trust are the people named in the living trust who will receive the assets held by the trust once you have passed.
Language defining the rules of the trust, such as the name of a successor trustee and information on how the assets of the trust are to be distributed upon your passing are all recorded in the trust documents. The living trust is funded by transferring your personal assets to it. Once the assets are transferred, the trust owns the assets. While the trust is revocable and you are designated as the trustee, you may place assets into the trust or remove assets from it. Most types of assets can be placed into a living trust. Common examples of irrevocable trust assets include real estate, land, automobiles, business interests, stocks, bonds and bank accounts.
A successor trustee is a person (or group of people) that takes over the management of a living trust (or a trust of any kind) when the original trustee has died, become incapacitated or is unable to act as the trustee. The successor trustee is typically named by the Grantor / Settlor (the person who created the trust) of the trust in the trust documents. The responsibilities of a successor trustee may also be specified in the language of the trust documents. The Settlor may name several successor trustee(s) in case one or more is unable to act as the trustee. In some cases a professional such as an attorney, fiduciary or trust company is named as the successor trustee.
Is a Successor Trustee and Trust Administrator the same thing?
Yes, typically when someone refers to a person as a Trustee or a Trust Administrator, they are referring to the same person. The trustee or successor trustee acts as the administrator of a trust.
Does a Successor Trustee have to be a relative?
No, a successor trustee does not have to be a relative of the Settlor. Commonly the Settlor chooses a relative such as a spouse, son, daughter, brother or sister to be their Successor Trustee, but it is also not uncommon for them to select an attorney, CPA, or licensed fiduciary.
Does a Successor Trustee get paid for their work?
Yes, in some cases a Successor Trustee or Trust Administrator receives payment for the work they do on behalf of the trust and the trust beneficiaries. Usually this occurs when the Successor Trustee is a professional such as a lawyer, licensed fiduciary or accountant. When the person serving as the Successor Trustee is a family member, it is common for them to decline compensation for the work they do on behalf of the trust. Trust Administration or Trustee compensation varies depending on the qualifications of the person, but annual compensation does not typically exceed 2% of the total trust assets.