One of the main reasons that the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo hears from Woodland Hills residents as to why they put off estate planning is because they fear upsetting family members who may be given roles in their estates. Having several options to choose from when selecting a trustee may place you in somewhat of a predicament. Each of your potential trustees may bring certain assets to the role, while also possessing weaknesses that could inhibit their ability to fulfill the responsibilities that come with it. If you are facing this conundrum, an alternate option you may want to explore would be to name co-trustees.
California law allows you to actually name as many trustees as you like. Each would have whatever powers and authorities you choose to grant to them through your trust’s instrument. If no specific responsibilities are designated, then the law recognizes each as having equal authority. You should be warned, however, that the potential for discord may still exist given that having equal authority may allow one of your co-trustees to veto the actions of the other. Indeed, the California Probate Code does state that unanimous action is needed before any powers shared between multiple trustees may be exercised.
If one of your co-trustees is unable to perform his or her duties for any reason, the remaining trustees may act alone in accomplishing the goals of the trust. If you wish to avoid scenarios where one party may be granted such authority, you may want to name a successor trustee to step into a vacated co-trustee role.
More information on granting authority to a trustee can be found throughout our site.