What does being a successor trustee mean?

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What does being a successor trustee mean?

My dad stepmother had a trust. My
stepbrother is primary trustee. Their
house is in foreclosure. I’m getting docs
from the foreclosing attorneys stating
they will appoint a trustee if either one
of us decline to respond to them. My
stepbrother refuses to act and is refusing
to provide me any info about the trust or
what our roles are. My question is if I
sign accepting responsibility as trustee,
what does that mean? Do I then take over
financial responsibility? Can I short
sell?

Asked on April 11, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) A "successor trustee" is what it sounds like: a trustee who takes over if the first dies or is incompetent, refuses to serve or quits, or is removed by the court.
2) The bank cannot itself remove your brother has trustee, but it can ask the court to do so, if he is not fulfilling his duties or obligations. The court has the power to remove him and appoint someone else, such as you, but only the court can do that.
3) You can't be made to serve as trustee against your will, so if the court does want to appoint you, you can refuse to do so--but you would be advised to put your objection to serving in writing to the bank and court at an early date.
4) As a successor trustee (if you are appointed and accept), you would have to do what is "right" for the trust--that is, what is legally correct, required by the terms of the trust instrument (document creating the trust), and in the interests of any beneficiaries of the trust; and/or any additional power(s) or responsibility(ies) the court order appointing you imposes. It can be alot of responsibility and work, but can give you a say in what happens to the trust assets or property, if that matters to you. Make your decision on what to do on that basis.


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