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The importance of naming the right successor trustees

California residents who are establishing living trusts will need to determine who to select to serve as their successor trustees. There are several considerations that they should make before doing so.

When people establish living trusts, they normally serve as the initial trustees. After they pass away, the role will pass to their spouses if they are married and have named them as co-trustees. If they are unmarried or after their spouses die, successor trustees will step into the roles of administering the trusts. These should be people who are highly trustworthy and that have the time and knowledge that will be needed to fulfill their duties.

Children may be good choices for successor trustees, but it is important for them to understand the time commitments and technical knowledge that will be involved. If a grantor has more than one child, and the children have a lot of conflict with each other, it may be better to name someone else as the successor trustee. Friends can serve in this role, but they should be compensated. Some people prefer to hire professional fiduciaries or banks to serve as the trustees.

Trusts can be excellent choices for people who want to have more privacy and who prefer to pass their assets outside of the public probate process. People who are interested in setting up trusts might benefit by talking about the option with their estate planning attorneys who can recommend specialized trusts that might help their clients to meet the needs of their families. They may also assist their clients in setting up the trusts so that the assets that they contain will be protected.

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