It can be challenging to choose the right individuals to hold the roles of trusted helpers such, as a successor trustee. When you’re married, it’s normal to look to your spouse to take on the role of the primary successor trustee. This means that if you are not able to manage your assets, during any period of disability or after your death, your spouse would step into your shoes. But, what if your spouse is not the parent of all of your children or what if all of his or her children are not also all of your children? It gets complicated and messy.
Your successor trustee steps into your shoes; though he or she must follow your trust instructions, your trustee has the power to distribute assets and control investments. Will a second spouse really be able to do this and properly balance his or her interests with those of your other children?
What if you put your adult children in charge as successor trustees? Are they going to fairly balance interests and make appropriate distributions and investments?
One solution is to name an independent trustee to manage the trusts; this may be the best solution during your lifetime (i.e. during any period of incapacity). A second solution is to divide the assets into separate trust shares upon your death.
Blended families have natural competition and conflict; it’s best to acknowledge them and plan for them. If you have a blended family, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney. Your next step is to contact our firm at (858) 792-5988. We look forward to hearing from you.