It’s not uncommon for people with revocable living trusts to name a family member – like their spouse or their oldest child – as their successor trustee. The successor trustee is the person who will take over all the administrative duties for your trust if you become incapacitated or die.
But is one successor trustee enough? Probably not. It’s better to create a little redundancy in your plans, just in case the first trustee isn’t able to step up when the time comes. Let’s look at two reasons this could happen.
You could both be injured or die in a common accident
Maybe your spouse is your first and only choice for your successor trustee – but you end up in a car crash together when you’re on the way home from vacation. Imagine what sort of chaos could happen if you were killed and your spouse was incapacitated.
Without a secondary successor trustee to step in to administer the trust, your family could be in for a lengthy and expensive court process to get a new trustee in place. That could interfere with your spouse’s care and make it harder for your family to meet their needs – which isn’t what you intended when you set up the trust.
Your chosen successor may not be able to serve
You chose your successor trustee with as much care as possible, but life can get very messy. What if your successor trustee develops health issues of their own and precedes you in death? What if they’re too ill when you pass away to take on the responsibility? What if they’ve developed a drug habit, a gambling addiction or financial problems that make them untrustworthy or incapable of serving?
Having an additional successor trustee named can save everybody a lot of grief and make sure that your trust accomplishes your goals. Developing a comprehensive estate plan takes a lot of experience and foresight, so work with someone who knows how to look ahead at the potential problems and plan for them.