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What a successor trustee does for an estate

It isn't uncommon for Georgia residents to name successor trustees. When an individual either dies or becomes incapacitated, the successor trustee may be called upon to administer the trust. A successor trustee may need to obtain a letter from a physician that proves a living person is no longer able to manage his or her affairs. If the settlor has died, the new trustee will need to obtain a death certificate before assuming authority over the trust.

Once an individual has established that he or she has the ability to administer the trust, that person will likely have several decisions to make. For instance, it may be necessary to sell or transfer real estate such as a primary residence. Ideally, a trustee will attach a note to the deed saying that he or she has the authority to sell or transfer the property to a new owner.

The goal is to satisfy a title examiner or others who may want to scrutinize the transaction. Other assets can be sold or transferred in much the same manner. The trust itself may contain instructions as to whether an asset should be sold, liquidated or kept in the trust for the benefit of future generations. Otherwise, a successor trustee is free to make any decision considered to be in a beneficiary's best interest.

There are many issues that individuals may need to consider when creating an estate plan. Ideally, a person will make his or her estate planning wishes known to family members prior to passing on. Doing so may make it easier for executors, trustees and others to make decisions that align with that person's values. An attorney may help create plan documents or provide insight into who may be best suited to be a trustee.

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