If my father placed his 3rd wife and my brother as co-trustees of his Trust but my brother died unexpectedly, what are mine my sister’s rights?

UPDATED: Apr 6, 2015

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If my father placed his 3rd wife and my brother as co-trustees of his Trust but my brother died unexpectedly, what are mine my sister’s rights?

My father’s wife then appointed a friend of our father’s as successor trustee instead of my sister or I. Even if the Trust gave her the right to do so, how do we determine how things are put in place so that when his wife dies, my sister and I are able to execute the directions of the Trust. The home this wife lives in is part of the Trust. How do we protect ourselves as well as not have more surprisesupon her death? We were shocked at her appointing someone other than the nextsibling as co trustees without consulting us and while my sister and I were grieving and managing our brothers affairs.

Asked on April 6, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The trust documents will set out the rules and who has what authority.  Usually, the documents will include provisions for how to handle replacement trustees.  If the trust documents gave the wife the authority to appoint replacements, then she could.  If the documents did not confer that authority on her, but instead, set out a different method of setting up a replacement, then the person she appointed would be removed as trustee.

You need to get every document and take them to a wills and probate attorney.  The probate code just went over a major over haul in the last couple of years, so make sure that you seek out an attorney that routinely handles probate law.  You may already have the protection that you want and need per the trust instruments-- you just need someone to look them over, and explain the authority that you each have, or do not have.  The only way that someone can really tell you what you can or should do is by reviewing those documents.

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