Asked over 2 years ago - Warren, MIFlag
My brother is listed as executor of my fathers living trust. My father passed away and my sister is also listed as co-executor. Does she have the same equal say in how things are distributed regarding my fathers living trust? Also, will she be required to sign off on any deeds to properties if they are sold?
Your brother and sister are "co-trustees", that is the correct term under Michigan law. Some trusts allow one trustee to act alone, so I would need to look at the trust before answering your main question. Neither co-trustee will have a right to determine "how things are distributed" -- your father already set forth in his trust who gets what (for example, all children equally). The co-trustees' duty is to gather the assets and distribute them according to your father's wishes. Sometimes one co-trustee is a controlling person and tries to take over without input from the co-trustee. I usually attempt a "family meeting" first, and then if necessary you can open up a trust administration in probate court so that your father's wishes are carried out. Good luck.
I would agree with the other two responses. I would add only that if you are truly referring to "co-executors" or "Co-Personal Representatives", these persons only act under a Will, by way of a probate proceeding. Most trusts are set up with the intent to avoid probate. It is possible that the Will names two Co-Executors and the Trust names only one Successor Trustee. It is also possible that your brother is listed as the First Successor Trustee and your sister is listed as an alternate, in the event your brother cannot act or continue.
If you have a copy of the Trust Agreement, then you should review it carefully to determine whether things are as you believe them to be.
Best of luck to you!
You have asked a good question! Usually, people listed as co-executor DO have equal say. However, it might be that either one alone has authority to make decisions, or it might be that both have to sign off on any decisions.
They key to answering your question is in the living trust document (or the will). The best thing to do is get a copy of the trust, if you can, and see what it says about who is in charge and how they are in charge. A well-drafted living trust will have a table of contents and page numbers. It will include language that says something like, "If co-trustees are serving, then ..." The document will probably answer your question.
An experienced estate planning attorney would be able to advise your sister on her rights as co-executor and it may even be permissible and proper to use trust funds to pay the legal fee.
I will not reiterate the wise advice given by my colleagues. I will simply add that you not only want to look at the trust agreement itself, but you should determine through due diligence whether or not the trust actually owned anything. Many times trusts are setup and no further steps are taken. If the trust is not "funded" properly (the process of making the trust an owner of an account or property or naming it as beneficiary), then probate will be necessary in some form.
You are confusing terms here. For trusts you need to use the term co-trustees. Assuming they are co-trustees, then they have equal say and both must agree to any action involving trust assets. If they can not agree, a court order may be needed to break the log-jam.
Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the thumbs up (helpful) tab below and/or designate my answer as best answer. Thanks.
Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law in PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is listed below.
Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question.
Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.
25,003 answers this week
2,584 professionals answering
Get answers from top-rated lawyers.
25,003 answers this week
2,584 professionals answering
Don't speak legalese? We define thousands of terms in plain English.Browse our legal dictionary