How to resolve a dispute between 2 trustees - one wants to sell the house and the other refuses.

Asked almost 2 years ago - Hawthorne, CA

As co-trustee with my sister as the other trustee, I want to sell my mom's house, but my sister wants to delay and hope that her son can afford to buy it in 6 months to one year. What can I do. Isn't that a breach of her fiduciary duties. How do I resolve the issue?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Robert Miller

    Contributor Level 17

    5

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    Answered . The starting point is always the specific terms of the trust and what the duties of the trustees happen to be, and whether there is a clause covering the means to resolve disputes between trustees. If the trust itself is silent, then you will need to hire an attorney to petition for instructions compelling the trustees to do as you request. If the property is in Los Angeles, you should call my office: Thank you.
    Robert Miller
    3418 W. 6th St.
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  2. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with Attorney Miller's response. I would simply add two points:
    1) You do not say whether or not either you or your sister are represented by counsel. If you are not, you should be. Given the apparent conflict, each of you should have a separate attorney.
    2) It is possible that your sister's plan *would* be considered self-dealing. She has a duty of impartiality to the trust beneficiaries, which presumably are both of you, at this point.

    I would get an attorney involved to make sure that you do not get taken advantage of.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and... more
  3. Robert E. Millsap III

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . To add to the above, consider the following when you talk to local counsel.

    1. Are you and your sister going to be co-owners of the property when the trust is settled.

    2. Her delay definitely sounds like self dealing to me. Who is supposed to pay the taxes and maintenance cost in the meantime.

    Sounds to me like sister and son should buy out your share and then they can do what they want. They could get a discount because of no realtor fees and son could start paying on it to show he is interested. I do think it would unfortunately require a letter from a lawyer explaining why this is the way to go and the delay is not appropriate unless both agree. Hopefully, the housing market is rising where you are so even if this delay occurs, you won't be damaged.

    If your sister really wants to do this but you do not agree, she should buy you out.

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