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Should You Name Your Surviving Spouse as the Successor Trustee?

Our firm often prepares estate plans for blended families or for spouses that each have children from separate relationships. In blended families, spouses often elect to set up an estate plan where on the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse’s separate property and share of the community property will be placed in a revocable Survivor’s Trust and the deceased spouse’s separate property and share of the community property will be placed in an irrevocable Decedent’s Trust. At the death of the surviving spouse, the assets in the Survivor’s Trust and Decedent’s Trust may be set up to benefit the children of the respective spouses.

In these types of scenarios, the surviving spouse is often named the successor trustee of the Survivor’s and Decedent’s Trust. As a result, it is not uncommon for children of the first spouse to die to question the spending or accounting of the surviving spouse over assets in the Decedent’s Trust. An easy solution to protect the surviving spouse and provide him or her with guidance in how to best administer the Decedent’s Trust is to nominate a third-party fiduciary to serve as co-trustee to assist the surviving spouse in administering the Decedent’s Trust. Ultimately, this protects the surviving spouse and ensures that trustee fulfills their duties and obligations.

Here at Chauvel & Glatt, our attorneys frequently work with third-party fiduciaries to assist clients in the administration of trusts. To learn more about this option and how we can assist you, please contact us today.

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500.


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