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How to Choose a Successor Trustee for a Living Trust in California?

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

What Is A Successor Trustee, And How Do You Choose One In Los Angeles?

A person or party is chosen to take over when a previous trustee passes away or becomes incapable of managing a trust. This is referred to as a successor trustee.

Usually, spouses, adult children, or reputable estate planning experts serve as successor trustees. Several successor trustees may occasionally share the trust administration, but it is most often the sole duty of one individual or organization.


In any case, choosing a successor trustee is a crucial decision. So let's look at how to pick a successor trustee and what it means for you legally.


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How Do You Appoint A Successor Trustee in California?


The trustor must state who to appoint in the trust document itself. However, it is possible that no one has been selected or that the indicated trustee cannot serve their role for any reason. This new trustee can be appointed by the trust's beneficiaries or the courts.


Successor trustees must voluntarily accept their position, typically by filing an affidavit of appointment or permission to serve. A formal amendment to the trust is required if an existing trustee wants to alter their successor trustee. Most courts won't accept impromptu modifications.

You should consult with an Estate Planning Attorney in Los Angeles for any possible problems. They will be able to help you with the appointment and any conflicts with the living trust.


It also goes without saying that trustors should hire a Living Trust Lawyer in Los Angeles when drafting a document. This is the best way to avoid problems and complications that might come with an incomplete trust document.


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How To Pick A Successor Trustee In California?

Most people choose their spouse, child, or another relative as their successor trustee. Many trustors also select an organization or a private trustee as their successor for larger trusts. In addition, a family member and an estate planning, accounting, or finance expert may be named as co-trustees by the trust maker.


In any event, it's crucial to make sure the individual you select as your successor trustee has the time, skills, and experience necessary to manage the trust. Hence, you need to consider your personal relationship with the potential successor trustee and their ability to manage and work through the legal and financial aspects of the trust.


Before making this crucial decision, consult with a California Estate Planning Attorney. They will help you in the whole process of drafting your living trust, including the clauses, legal language, as well as your choice of living trust successor trustee.


Who Decides The Appointment Of A Living Trust Successor Trustee In California?

Initially, the trust's creator. When one spouse dies and shares a spousal trust with co-trustees, the surviving spouse often takes over as sole trustee. Usually, the successor trustee only assumes control when both spouses have passed away or cannot do their duties.

Depending on the conditions of the trust, a co-trustee who becomes a sole trustee may or may not have the authority to choose the successor trustee. Successor trustees frequently have the power to name the subsequent successor in multigenerational trusts.

The beneficiaries may have the authority to choose a substitute trustee if no successor trustee has been named or if the designated successor cannot perform their duties for any other reason. If they lack this authority or cannot reach an agreement, the courts may need to name a replacement.


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1000Attorneys is a California State Certified Estate Planning Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a prescreened California lawyer in minutes. Contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or complete our case details submission form) for a free initial consultation.

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