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By: Scott Grossman on April 12th, 2018

Who Becomes Successor Trustee When the Acting Trustee Dies?

While a good estate plan anticipates many potential scenarios that can arise during the trust administration process, the death of a successor trustee may not always be expected. Events like these do occur, however. The longer the length of the term of the trust, the more likely it may be. A new trustee must be appointed if the serving trustee passes away before the trust has been terminated. The person who is given this responsibility varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the trust.

Six Potential Scenarios for Successor Trustees After a Death:

When a trustee passes away, the court or the remaining trustees must act quickly to ensure that someone is given control over the trust assets and the administration of the trust. Who this successor trustee will be depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the particular trust. The following are six potential scenarios for who may be appointed as successor trustee when the acting trustee dies unexpectedly:

  1. First of all, the acting co-trustee may continue to serve, either alone or alongside a new successor co-trustee.
  2. Also, the terms of the trust may direct who should step in and serve as the new trustee.
  3. Furthermore, a trust company may be appointed to serve if the vacancy cannot be filled and all beneficiaries agree to the appointment.
  4. Additionally, a person who has a financial stake in the trust can file a petition with the probate court to have a particular trustee appointed.
  5. Any currently serving trustee can also petition the probate court to have a particular trustee appointed.
  6. Lastly, any beneficiary older than 14 years of age can nominate a new trustee. Such beneficiary cannot nominate himself if he is under the age of 18, however.

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