Can Anyone Serve as Successor Trustee for a Revocable Trust?
As the name implies, a successor trustee is a trusted individual who handles the duties connected with your revocable trust in the event you lose capacity during your lifetime, and settles all remaining issues after you die. As such, your first impulse might be to name your spouse, one of your adult children or a close friend. However, these individuals might not have the financial and legal knowledge to handle the responsibilities of trustees. At the very least, they will need legal assistance every step of the way.
The creator of a trust typically has more administrative flexibility than the successor trustee. The person you designate must handle all issues in accordance with your wishes and Florida law, as described beginning with section 736.0801 of the Florida Trust Code. Trust administration is a complex responsibility that involves several duties, including the following:
- Protecting trust property — Holding the property and having responsibility for investing assets within the trust, as appropriate
- Record-keeping and reporting — Maintaining detailed records of all transactions made within the trust and keeping beneficiaries informed through required periodic statements and reports
- Optimizing the trust assets for tax purposes — The trustee must make decisions based on potential tax benefits or consequences
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries — Handling all tax and expense issues before ensuring your beneficiaries receive distributions as you intended
Those close to you may have your complete confidence — which is extremely important — but they typically do not have the qualifications to handle the burdens of all administrative requirements established under the law. To protect them from possible tax and legal consequences, it is essential to make sure your trust agreement allows them to consult a Florida trust administration attorney who can help them carry out your wishes.