Trusts used to be just for wealthy families, but not anymore. In the last couple of decades, many thousands of ordinary folks have created trusts, especially simple "living trusts," which function as will substitutes. Their big advantage is that after death, property held in trust can be transferred to inheritors without probate court. That saves family members lots of delay, expense, and hassle.
As people have become aware of the benefits of living trusts, they have become hugely popular. But many people who create them don't give much thought to who will actually handle the transfer of trust property after they die. They may even think that it will all somehow happen "automatically," without any effort from survivors.
Not true. Just as an executor takes over after a death to see that the terms of a will are followed, a "successor trustee" takes over to see that the terms of a trust are carried out. If you've been tapped to serve as a trustee, it's a good idea to find out just what responsibility you'll be taking on. The topics below will fill you in.