To Appoint or Not Appoint Co-Successor Trustees? A short story.

Attorney: After you and your spouse, who do you want to be in charge of managing your Trust?

Client: Our son and daughter. They get along great. Our son lives in Ohio and our daughter lives here. Our son is a CPA and our daughter is a nurse. We’re so proud of both of them. And we know they’ll take good care of us. But we don’t want to put the burden of taking care of us on only one of them.

Attorney: Aww, I’m glad to hear that your son and daughter get along so well. I’m really close to my brother as well. I know there’s nothing he won’t do for me.

Client: That’s exactly what our kids are like.

Attorney: Nice. So, they really agree about everything?

Client: Yep, everything.

Attorney: Is it possible that they could disagree about something?

Client: I suppose it’s possible. But I doubt it.

Attorney: Ok, if you would like to appoint both your son and daughter to be co-successor trustees after you and your spouse, then you certainly can. However, if they ever disagree about an action they need to take for the trust, then they’ll be in a stalemate until they come to an agreement. That can be problematic if there is an emergency or if they can’t come to an agreement.

Client: So, what happens if they can’t agree?

Attorney: They typically have to file petitions and go to Court to get an answer on how they should proceed which takes time and money.

Client: Well, we’re doing our estate plan to avoid having to go to Court later. But we really don’t want to have to choose which of our kids has to do all the work for us.

Attorney: I understand that. If you want to appoint multiple co-successor trustees, we recommend you appoint an odd number, so there’s a tie breaker for disagreements. But too many cooks in the kitchen can make decision making more difficult and time consuming.

It’s also important to know that even if one person is in charge, they can still get support from their other siblings and professionals in carrying out their responsibilities.

Another factor to consider when appointing a successor trustee is whether that person is good with money management. Sometimes there is someone who is better with making medical decisions and someone else who is better with finances.

Client: Well, we definitely plan to have our daughter be in charge of our medical decisions since she’s a nurse. She also lives closer, so it makes it easier for her to check in on us. And our son has a good head for numbers, he’s a CPA after all. Our son has been doing our taxes for years.

Attorney: Ok, that’s good to know. What do you think about appointing your daughter to be your Agent for your Advance Healthcare Directive (the person who makes medical decisions for you if you’re incapacitated) after your spouse? And appointing your son to be your successor trustee?

That way, your daughter would be in charge of your medical decisions and your son would be in charge of your finances.

Client: That sounds good. Can I list my daughter as a backup successor trustee after my son?

Attorney: Of course.

Client: And they can help each other out?

Attorney: Yes. The person in charge can always get assistance. They can even hire/consult with experts if needed.

Client: Great, let’s appoint our daughter as Agent for our Advance Health Care Directive and our son as our successor trustee with our daughter as a backup.

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If you are looking for assistance on a probate or estate, we can help you seek legal recourse at Bellator Law Group. Contact us online or call us at (619) 232-8377 to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

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