Successor Trustee for a Special Needs Trust

Have you been named as a successor trustee of a Special Needs Trust or are you creating a trust and need to select someone for that role?  If the answer is yes, you might be wondering what you should do, where you should begin, and whether or not you are prepared for that role?  The following checklist will provide you direction if you are about to embark in that role or if you are deciding who you should name as your successor trustee for a Special Needs Trust.

At Physical or Mental Incapacity

  • Check the trust document for specific questions.  Have the appropriate physician(s) write a letter documenting the person’s condition (some trust documents will only require a letter from an M.D., others from one or two specialists, etc.).
  • Review the Caregiver Instructions
  • Notify the attorney who prepared the trust document.  He/she should be aware of the incapacity in case you or a family member need to call with questions.
  • Notify your Golden Financial Services Advisor who has provided assistance in case you or a family member need to call with questions.
  • Notify the bank and other financial institutions that you are now the trustee for this person.  They will probably want to see a copy of the doctor’s letter, trust document and your personal identification.
  • Secure and inventory any property, especially real estate.  Make sure you have the keys and take care of any utilities, etc.
  • Transact any necessary business for the incapacitated person.  You may need to apply for disability benefits, receive and deposit funds, pay bills (including mortgage and other obligations) and, in general, use the person’s assets to take care of him/her until recovery or death.
  • Keep a ledger of bills paid and any income received.
  • Keep all successor trustees fully informed at all times.

At Death

  • Assist as needed with funeral arrangements, flowers, cemetery marker, announcement in newspaper, special wishes for service, notifying friends, relatives, employer, etc.
  • Notify the attorney who prepared the trust document.  He/she should be aware of the death in case you, any beneficiaries, or other family members need to call with questions.
  • Notify your Golden Financial Services Advisor who has provided assistance in case you or a family member need to call with financial questions regarding trust operation and/or investment decisions.
  • Review the directions in the trust document and the Caregiver Instructions.
  • Notify the bank so you can start writing checks.  The bank will probably want to see a certified death certificate, a copy of the trust document, and your personal identification.
  • Notify Social Security, life insurance companies, retirement plans, and any other associations that will provide a death benefit.
  • Prepare a list of all trust assets.
  • Collect any bills and start a ledger of accounts payable and income received.
  • Value all assets and securities.
  • Get an appraisal of real property and personal property.
  • Contact an accountant or attorney for preparation of annual taxes.
  • Pay all bills and taxes due.
  • Make a final accounting record of all assets and bills paid.
  • Make special estate distributions if called for.
  • Review investments to see if they meet objectives of income, growth, and security.
  • Review assets at least annually to determine if assets should be reinvested for best growth/income.
  • Continue to maintain income tax records.

Do you have more questions about being a trustee or selecting a successor trustee for your legal documents?  A Golden Financial Services Advisor is always available to answer any planning questions or concerns you may have.  Please note that we are financial advisors and not attorneys and we do not authorize the use of this information as a substitute for legal advice.

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