October 29th, 2022 in
My mother has dementia and I am named as the successor trustee. Am I required to act? Watching your mother’s dementia progress can be incredibly challenging emotionally, cognitively and physically. If you are also grappling with legal issues, it can seem overwhelming. Generally, adult children are trying to balance their parent’s independence with the need to protect them from predators.
Generally, when a revocable living trust is set up the person who created the trust also serves as the initial trustee. The trust document designates a successor trustee to serve as the successor trustee when the original trustee either passes away or becomes incapacitated.
If you are a successor trustee and you are aware your mother is unable to manage her finances, she may be incapacitated. The successor trustee does not have an obligation to act from a legal stand point. The successor trustee does not have any duties or responsibilities under the trust until they agree to accept the appointment as successor trustee.
However, the bigger issue is if your mother is unable to manage her finances or can be easily manipulated, she is going to cause harm to her finances as the trust assets will not be managed properly. This means that the beneficiaries of her trust will be harmed as her finances will not be properly managed and her assets will be mismanaged, wasted, squandered or stolen.
But how do you know when your mother has reached the stage when she can no longer manage her finances or execute the duties as trustee. Most trust have specific sections that clearly state what needs to be done to have the original trustee deemed incapacitated or incompetent. For example, the trust may state you need to obtain a letter from your mother’s doctor stating she is unable to manage her finances. Once you do what the trust requires, the successor trustee can step in to protect the trust and begin acting as the trustee. You do not need to go to court to have your mother declared incompetent.
Generally the process is not complicated. Review the trust and just complete the steps stated in the trust to have the original trustee deemed incompetent. Once that is done, the successor trustee can begin to manage the assets of the trust and make sure the trust assets are managed for the benefit of the your mother. Contact out team today to learn more.