Living Trust Contents > After a Grantor Dies > Who Serves as Trustee

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Who Serves as Trustee

More Than One Successor Trustee
If a Trustee Resigns
Removing a Trustee

With a shared trust, when one grantor dies, the survivor serves as trustee. With an individual trust, or when the surviving grantor dies, the successor trustee is in charge.

Who Serves as Trustee
  Individual Trust Shared Trust
When first grantor dies Successor trustee(s) Surviving grantor
When second grantor dies N/A Successor trustee(s)
If successor trustee can't serve Alternate successor trustee(s) Alternate successor trustee(s)

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More Than One Successor Trustee

If more than one person is named in the trust document as successor trustee, they all serve together. The trust document may require them all to agree before taking any action with regard to the living trust property, or it may allow them to act independently.

If one of the trustees cannot serve, the others remain as trustees. The person named as alternate successor trustee does not take over unless all the people named as successor trustees cannot serve.

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If a Trustee Resigns

A trustee can resign at any time by preparing and signing a letter of resignation. The ex-trustee should deliver the notice to the person who is next in line to serve as trustee (see table above).

If no one named in the trust document can serve, the last acting trustee can appoint someone else to take over. The appointment must be in writing, signed and notarized.

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Removing a Trustee

Very rarely, a beneficiary becomes seriously unhappy with the way a trustee handles trust property. For example, the beneficiary of a child's subtrust might complain that the trustee isn't spending enough of the trust property on the beneficiary's education. If the dispute can't be worked out, the beneficiary can file a lawsuit to try to force the removal of the trustee.

 

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