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My brother & I are joint trustees on our mother's living trust & co-exeuctors & Co-conservators her will.

Moreno Valley, CA |

He is talking like he wants to open & close the trust/estate account & close it the same day so "they can't come after anybody." We have not been communicating well. He has done everything without me except signing for selling the house. He forwarded her mail to himself before he had documented proof of her death. There has been a whole lot more that has happened just since April 4, 2013.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Do you have a question?

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/


  2. If all assets are titled in the name of the trust, the will is not necessary. As far as the trust, each of you is entitled to retain your own counsel to represent you as trustee. It sounds like that should happen.

    In addition, unless the trust specifically authorizes unilateral action, your joint action is required. Note, if your mother had bills and expenses, the trustees can be held personally liable to the extent of distributions if the debts are valid as against your mom.

    Because you are not communicating well with your brother, you really should retain trust counsel to assist you with the administration and dealing with your brother.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.


  3. I agree with other attorney answers, you should hire your own attorney because the actions of a co-trustee can affect your personal liability. You should take legal action and or asked to be removed as trustee if you chose to do so.


  4. Pursuant to California Probate Code § 16004 ,a trustee has a duty to not use or deal with trust property for his own profit or for any other purpose unconnected with the trust. Probate Code § 16013 states that “If a trust has more than one trustee, each trustee has a duty to do the following: (a) To participate in the administration of the trust. (b) To take reasonable steps to prevent a co-trustee from committing a breaching of trust or to compel a co-trustee to redress a breach of trust.”

    Also consider California Probate Code § 15642(e) which states:

    If it appears to the court that trust property or the interests of a beneficiary may suffer loss or injury pending a decision on a petition for removal of a trustee and any appellate review, the court may, on its own motion or on petition of a co-trustee or a beneficiary, compel the trustee whose removal is sought to surrender trust property to a co-trustee or to a receiver or temporary trustee. The court may also suspend the powers of the trustee to the extent the court deems necessary.

    And California Probate Code § 17206 states:

    The court in its discretion may make any orders and take any other action necessary or proper to dispose of the matters presented by the petition, including appointment of a temporary trustee to administer the trust, in whole or in part.

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