Creating a comprehensive estate plan typically involves the inclusion of a variety of estate planning tools and strategies. Exactly which of those tools and strategies you include in your plan will depend on what your individual goals and objectives are for your plan. If you choose to include a Family Wealth Trust, or FWT, in your estate plan you may find yourself asking “ Who should be the successor trustee of my Family Wealth Trust? ” Only you and your estate planning attorney can make the final decision regarding your successor trustee; however, a better understanding of the factors that should be considered when choosing your successor trustee is a good place to start.
Trusts are an increasing popular part of any estate plan. Despite the name, you do not have to be wealthy to benefit from the addition of a Family Wealth Trust to your estate plan. Basically, a FWT is simply a revocable living trust into which you transfer the majority of your assets. Why place your assets into a trust? One common reason is for incapacity planning purposes.
Without a trust, ask yourself what would happen to your assets should you become incapacitated because of a catastrophic accident tomorrow? Who would have the legal authority to manage and control your assets? If you are married your spouse may be able to access some of your assets but likely not all of them without petitioning a court for the right to do so. If you are unmarried, a court order will be necessary for anyone to step in and take control of your assets. In the meantime, bills may go unpaid and maintenance and upkeep neglected. A FWT can prevent that from occurring by providing a mechanism by which control shifts automatically in the event of your incapacity.
Your trust terms can provide for your successor trustee to automatically take over the control and management of the trust in the event of the incapacity of the trustee (you). Therefore, the person you name as your successor trustee should be the person you wish to take over control of the trust assets should something happen to you. Only you can decide who this will be; however, a spouse, adult child, or parent are popular choices.
If you have additional questions or concerns relating to trust agreements, please be sure to contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.