Feb 18, 2011

Trustees Decide When Beneficiaries Don't Agree

happy family.jpgDear Liza: I am one of 5 beneficiaries of a living trust.......my grandparents are both deceased now.  Everything is to be divided equally 5 ways.  There are several properties involved that need to be sold etc. One property in particular is a "cabin" in a small town. How do you decide who "gets" it if more than one party is interested, but not all interested parties want to share? As a general rule, unless the trust instrument itself says something differently, it's up to the Trustee to decide how to make the shares equal in a situation like this. Of course, it's always better if everyone can agree. And, as a beneficiary, you are entitled to full disclosure of the values of the assets so that you can make sure that the shares are equal, or very close to equal (it's sometimes hard to match up perfectly). If you disagree with an appraisal, you could request that another appraisal be made. Though I don't recommend it, you can even retain your own counsel to advocate for you in the settlement process.  Like most family situations, though, working it out is generally a better idea than getting "lawyered up."