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Can I Open Checking Account as Successor Trustee While Primary is Still Alive?

Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers a reader question about whether they can open a checking account as the successor Trustee while the primary trustee is still alive.

Transcript of Video: Can I Open Checking Account as Successor Trustee While Primary is Still Alive?

Today's question comes from Waukesha

Wisconsin and the reader has the

following can I open a checking account

in the name of a trust if I am the only

successor trustee while the primary is


so by primary I think they mean the

grantor the creator of the trust who's

probably still serving as trustee we

have a trust in the name of my father he

is the primary trustee and I am a

successor trustee he is gravely ill can

I open a bank account to protect his

assets from probate before he passes as

a successor trustee do I have the power

to do that so that's the question in full

and the answer to this again comes down

to you need to examine the trust

document to see what powers it grants

you as successor trustee if you are the

successor trustee but not yet acting my

initial reaction is that you likely lack

the power to open this account however

many trusts such as the ones I draft

include provisions about what happens

when the initial trustee your father is

ill or incapacitated now for trusts I

draft there's often a provision stating

that if two physicians say they're

incapacitated unable to act then the

successor steps in so if your trust has

a provision like that it's likely you

could trigger that provision and begin

acting as successor trustee in general

if you are the trustee you likely have

the power to open an account and move

assets around any assets already owned

by the trust now one thing to be aware

of is sometimes people form a trust but

they don't transfer the assets like the

title to real estate well then you need

to look and see if in your father's

estate plan he executed a durable

financial power of attorney and if he

named you as agent the ones I draft

often say that my agent may take assets

and pour them into my trust plan so for

example let's say there's a piece of

real estate your father never

retitled it's possible you could act as

his agent to retitle that piece of real

estate into the name of this trust if

you get it into the name of the trust

then it would avoid probate upon his

death and it sounds like your goal here

is to avoid probate on these assets so

you want to make sure that as many

assets as he owns are all retitled or

assigned into the name of the trust I

recommend working with an experienced

estate playing and probate attorney to

accomplish this because it sounds like

you're on a very short timeline great

question and thank you for asking.

© 2019 Law Office of Thomas B. Burton. All Rights Reserved.

Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired.

For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact my office.

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