As a trustee can I refuse a request ofthe beneficiaryto sign documents for a house purchase?

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As a trustee can I refuse a request ofthe beneficiaryto sign documents for a house purchase?

My 28 year-old daughter received a medical malpractice lawsuit in 07/09. She is on SSD with many medical problems and is in the hospital often. In 2005, she received a liver transplant and may now need a kidney transplant. She has issueswith her lungs, anemia, ovarian cysts, osteoporosis, eschemic colitis, among other complications. My daughter put the settlement in a bank trust. I am the beneficiary of this trust. A few days ago, my daughter asked me to sign a form as the trustee of the trust for the purchase of a $353,000 home. She is too ill. Do I have to sign this? If I don’t, will the sale of the house go through?

Asked on February 5, 2011 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for all your daughter's troubles.  The trust document needs to be read by an attorney in order to properly interpret what it says and how it applies to this situation.  It is true that trustees have great leeway in what they can and can not do under the law.  The law gives them great power but they are of course limited by the trust document as well.  Here is the problem I see here: it could be a conflict of interest for you to be named as the trustee and the beneficairy and refuse to sign the documents here for the release of HER MONEY for the sale.  Is it really your determination that she is "too ill" for release of the funds?  Seek legal help here and think twice about what is going on.        


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