Does the trustee of property held in Trust own the property?

I recently looked up the deed information on my parents’ house. My brother was listed as the trustee and the physical property address was listed as a Trust. Does this mean that my brother is the sole owner of the property in the event of my parents’ passing?

Asked on February 21, 2016 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, a trustee does own the property and does not necessarily acquire the property after the death of the person(s) who created the trust. The trustee is best thought of as a manager or administrator; he manages the property for the trust, according to the terms or instructions in the trust. While it is certainly possible that the terms of the trust will ultimately leave the property to the trustee, that depends on what the document creating the trust says; it is not automatic that the property goes to the trustee.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Just who will own the Trust property after your parents' passing will be described in the Trust agreement itself. Being named a trustee conveys no ownership rights to Trust proerty; it just means that the person serving in this capacity is in charge of its administration. In this regard, a trustee acts similarly to an executor of a Will. So in this case, for example, they must make sure that: the mortgage, if any, is being paid, the property taxes are up to date, maintenance and repairs are done when need, etc. These duties end when the Trust terminates. 

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