Just found out 2 days ago that I was successor trustee to my mothers trust. When I received the trust from my brother 2 yrs ago I took it to an attorney to see what the trust stated the attorney informed me it was your standard trust and that my brother was sole successor trustee. So for the last 5 yrs my brother has signed everything and handled everything on his own can my brother be in trouble for doing this? And if he did anything wrong will I be legally responsible for his actions?
Estate Planning Attorney
Successor Trustee is different from a co-trustee. If you just found out you were listed a successor trustee, that is in keeping with what your attorney told you and your brother has been doing. What this usually means is, your brother acts as trustee until he is not willing or able and then you are the next in line to the role. There may also be named a successor to you. I cannot know without seeing the trust but I think you misunderstood the terms. Even if you were co-trustees, usually the Trust allows one to act for the Trust. If not, it will be specifically stated that BOTH MUST AGREE or something like that. If you are still concerned, see an attorney.
Use the AVVO.com to find an attorney in your area. In addition to that, contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!
If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.
The answer to your question depends upon whether you were to be a co-trustee with your brother, or were to be his successor. If you have a copy of the trust, it should be clear. if you were named as a co-successor trustee with your brother, than the trust provisions could say that either trustee could act alone, or that both must agree and approve any actions by the trustees of the trust. Without looking at the trust, I cannot tell you which of these conditions applies.
If the trust document states that both trustees must agree and neither can act alone, whether you would be legally liable for what your brother did by himself would depend on the nature of the act itself, whether you knew you were the co-trustee, as well as whether you should have insisted that he could not act without your consent and approval.
This answer is not intended to be and is not the giving of legal advice, and should not be acted upon as such. If you desire to obtain legal advice, you must retain an attorney.