Being a successor trustee can be a big responsibility, and in some situations it can be time consuming.
The first thing you need to do is consult an attorney in the state where your loved one died and where their will is admitted to probate.
If this is a different state from the state where the living trust is governed, then you may need to consult with an attorney in that state as well.
The estate attorney that you meet with should review the assets that were held in your loved one's name.
These assets can include those that pass under the will to the trust, assets that pass by way of beneficiary designation, and also the assets that are already in the trust.
Once you have met with the appropriate attorney(s), you must start locating and protecting the assets of the trust.
In addition, you will need to collect your loved one's life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and annuities of which the trust has been named the primary beneficiary.
In addition, you must obtain the date of death values of all the trust assets.
This not only includes retirement account assets, but also any real estate and / or business interests held by your loved one.
With regard to taxes, your loved one's income and estate tax liabilities need to be deciphered.
And, both final income tax returns and estate taxes must also be prepared.
If probate administration is necessary, you will need to coordinate with the personal representative of the estate.
If any cash must be raised to pay off your loved one's debts, this could also fall into your role, as well as coordinating and paying the ongoing expenses of administering the trust.
Once it is determined who your loved one owed money to, you can pay off these debts as well.
As a successor trustee, it is your role to adhere to the terms of the trust.
This includes implementing the provisions of the trust.
This may include addressing some of the same points that the estate executor has, but in your capacity as trustee for the assets of the trust.
Based on the various duties, you may be able to distribute the assets quickly to your loved one's beneficiaries, or your role could continue for a long period of time if your loved one's living trust pours over into trusts for his or her children.
The best advice on these matters should be obtained from an estate planning attorney.
They can help answer any questions you may have about your or your loved one's situation.