A question we receive frequently is “Can I name more than one person to serve as a co-trustee of my trust?” The answer is yes, you can, but it may cause some complications.

There are a couple of things for you to consider:

Financial institutions.

A trustee’s job is to manage and distribute assets based on the terms of the trust and they often work closely with financial institutions.  However, they may have some concerns if more than one trustee is named.  Do the trustees have to act jointly or is there independent authority to act on behalf of the trust?  For instance, do both trustees need to sign every document related to the trust?  Do they have to be in agreement about financial investment decisions or distributions decisions?

What happens if the trustees have a disagreement?

Even those who get along well may disagree on the way an action is handled. How does that end up being resolved? It may not work out the way you intended.

We recommend that you consider one trustee to serve at a time. You can always have successor trustees named in case the first individual is unable or unwilling to serve, but having one trustee named is usually the better way to proceed.

Founded by a nurse attorney and with offices in Acton, Sudbury, and Andover, Massachusetts, Generations Law Group helps families navigate the complex areas of estate planning and elder law to inform and protect loved ones of every generation.