Co-trustees are a person or organization that has been given responsibility for managing someone else’s property or money through a trust along with another person or organization. There are different types of trusts, including Totten Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Living Trust, and many others. The type of trust will determine the exact actions a Trustee must take in order to perform their job.
An estate includes the things that a person owns. The things left by someone who has died can be distributed based on a Will, Trust, or Intestate laws. Estates have to be administered in the Probate Court if the estate meets certain criteria. See our Infographic on The Probate Process.
My sister and I are the co-trustees of my parents trust. I want to sell their home now that they are dead but she doesn’t want to sell. What can I do?
Disagreements between co-trustees is a fairly common occurrence. Unless the trust has a contrary provision, under California trust law all the co-trustees must agree to sell real estate held by the trust. This rule applies no matter how many co-trustees administer the trust. If there are four trustees, then all four must agree to the sale.
Even reasonable people acting in good faith can disagree about what to do. When the co-trustees are siblings and money is at issue, there may be all sort of disagreements about whether to sell or retain the family home. Rather than allow trust administration to come to a halt over disagreements, California trust law allows any co-trustee (and even the trust’s beneficiaries) to petition the probate court to instruct the co-trustees what to do. This gives every co-trustee who wants to be heard an opportunity to persuade the probate judge they are correct. The judge will issue an order and that will bring the argument to a close.
AttorneyThe Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307