A trust can be an important tool in estate planning. Avoiding probate, providing for young beneficiaries, addressing unique situations and providing added peace of mind are important virtues and have led to the frequent use of trusts in estate planning for people in various circumstances. So, what is a trustee of a trust? And who serves as trustee? The trustee is essentially the “manager” of the trust. While directed by the language of the written trust agreement (and applicable statutes), the trustee generally has discretion in making investments, managing trust assets and (within set parameters) providing resources to the beneficiaries of the trust. When someone creates a trust, they frequently would serve as their own trustee while they are alive and well. But at some point, that trust creator dies (or could become mentally unable to serve as trustee). So, who serves as trustee next? That depends on who you appoint! The written trust agreement should provide detailed direction about who should serves as a successor trustee (and ideally includes several successors / back-ups). This could be an individual (friend, family member) or could be a professional trust company. A successor trustee would need to accept that role before serving—a fact that underscores the need to name at least a few backups. However, if all named trustees decline to serve, have passed away or are otherwise unable to serve, a court could also appoint a successor trustee.