Grantor/Beneficiary Asset Protection
When you are creating a trust as a means of passing on ownership of your assets to your heirs, you will want to give special consideration to appointing the best trustee or successor trustee to carry out your wishes and protect the interests of your beneficiaries. In many cases, as the grantor or settlor of a revocable trust, you will be the initial trustee, and your successor will assume his or her duties upon your becoming incapacitated or dying. In either case, you want to ensure that not only are the trust’s assets protected, but that your desires and needs as well as the needs of your beneficiaries are carried out to the letter.
Choosing an attorney with a broad knowledge of estates and trusts and other financial matters is often a good choice. Knowing that a skilled legal professional, as opposed to a family member, will assume the role of trustee can give you considerable peace of mind and prevent your having to place the substantial burden of a trusteeship on someone who has little experience in asset management and may be overwhelmed by the complex responsibilities involved.
When you select attorney Todd A. Zuckerbrod as your trustee, you can rest assured that your assets will be in good hands, that the duties of the trustee toward both you, the grantor, and your beneficiaries will be carried out to the highest professional standards, and that your family will not have to assume responsibilities for which they are unprepared.
As your trustee, attorney Todd A. Zuckerbrod will take every step needed to protect the interests of both as you as grantor and those whom you have named to receive assets from the trust.
Trustee’s Duties during Grantor’s Incapacity
From the time that a successor trustee assumes that role upon your incapacity, that trustees responsibility is to you. If you should become incapacitated:
- Your trustee will obtain documentation of the incapacity from your doctor, according to the terms set forth in the trust documents and ensure through your doctors and family that you are receiving the appropriate medical care and that the terms of any living will or health care proxy are understood.
- If you have minor children, the trustee will ensure that they are being cared for properly and their needs are being met. If you have named a guardian, that person should be informed of your incapacity, and the trustee will ensure that funds are available for the minor’s care.
- Your trustee will handle your financial affairs, managing your bills and expenses. In addition, your trustee will assume management of your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate holdings, and so forth, keeping records and helping to ensure that you are not taken advantage of by financial professionals.
- Your trustee will ensure that any tax obligations are met.
If you recover from any incapacity, you can reassume control of your assets and affairs as Trustee.
Trustee’s Duties upon Grantor’s Death
Upon your demise, the trustee’s duties turn toward your beneficiaries. These are some of the responsibilities the trustee will assume upon your death:
- Notify beneficiaries, banks, brokers, and others of your death.
- Ensure that final medical bills and funeral expenses are paid. Funeral instructions should be included in the will or trust documents.
- Coordinate with any co-trustee.
- Inventory all assets in the trust.
- Collect all death benefits including life insurance policies, social security, veteran’s benefits, etc.
- Maintain detailed records of all incoming and outgoing funds.
- Manage securities and other assets, which may include buying, selling, trading, or taking necessary actions to protect or grow the assets prior to distribution among beneficiaries.
- Communicate with beneficiaries.
- Treat all beneficiaries equally, except to the extent that the trust has made different provisions for different beneficiaries.
- Apply for judicial modification of the trust on behalf of beneficiaries if the trust’s terms are causing hardships to beneficiaries.
- Transfer title to assets held in the trust and distribute cash among the beneficiaries according to instructions in the trust documents.
- Set up additional trusts as required by the terms of the trust for minors, spouse, beneficiaries with special needs, etc., if instructed by trust documents, and obtain new tax IDs for each.
- File the final tax return for the trust.
Choosing the Right Trustee for Your Peace of Mind
Serving as a trustee is a serious responsibility. To ensure that your interests as grantor and the interests of your beneficiaries are protected, consider appointing attorney Todd A. Zuckerbrod as your trustee or co-trustee. Todd combines his knowledge and experience in estate planning and trusteeship with over 30 years of legal experience in the securities industry, making him uniquely qualified to manage and protect your assets during your lifetime or after your death. For a full range of trustee and estate planning services, contact Todd A. Zuckerbrod in Boca Raton, Florida to arrange a free initial consultation.