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In settling an estate can the courts force co-trustees to close the trust as partners in real estate ownership?

Encinitas, CA |

My brother and I are trying to divide my parent's estate. I do not share his goals or trust him based on his past business activities. I have suggested we sell the property and divide the proceeds, or that he give me more stock and cash, and that he take the real estate but we can't agree on a price. He insists that we become partners. The Trust papers only say that the assets need to be divided 50-50, not that each asset be divided 50-50. If he petitions probate court what actions might they take? Can I be forced to be his partner? Would the court force the sale of the property?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

The probate court will not force a partnership on you. That said you need to be well represented. Your situation is not uncommon. You should be able to "equalize" the division. You and your brother should consider a short mediation with a qualified mediator. It would save both of you time and money and you each can still be represented by counsel of yur choice.

This is a general answer only and you should seek the advice of counsel to address facts specific to your circumstances.


Attorney Hackard is right that mediation might be a good idea. He is also correct that you will want your own attorney representing you in this matter. It is not uncommon for different beneficiaries of an estate to have different ideas of what to do with the property, however, a court cannot force you into forming a partnership.

This posting is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. For more information, please visit


Partnerships are a voluntary relationship. The Court won't force you if you don't want to enter into one. The court could force a sale. As has been said, you should seek out your own attorney to represent your interests. All it might need is a letter from a lawyer to prevent the result you fear.

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