Dear Stefanie:
       My ex-husband named our two kids as co-Trustees on his Trust. He is incapacitated and the kids started taking over his affairs. Unfortunately, every bank requires both of their signatures and they can’t take any action unless it is together. This has been very frustrating, as one lives in Oregon. Please explain.

– Conjoined on Coronation

Dear Conjoined on Coronation:
       I regularly see this when I review trusts drafted by others. Often, a Trust will merely state that successor Co-Trustees must act “jointly.” Without more details, financial institutions often interpret this to mean that BOTH signatures are required for all transactions.
       California law states: “Unless otherwise provided in the trust… a power vested in two or more trustees may only be exercised by their unanimous action.”
In my experience, clients often want only one physical signature IF both Trustees have agreed on the action to be taken. However, many Trusts do not provide for this, leading to administrative nightmares, as it is hard to get two signatures on every matter (especially if Co-Trustees live in different states). Unfortunately, only after the Co-Trustees take over is this limitation often fully understood.
       It is important to have a review to better understand these issues!

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