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PERSONAL FINANCE

Disagreements Living On in a Living Trust

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Q: What do you do to avoid problems with the beneficiaries not agreeing on what to do with the real property in a living trust? Can the successor trustee make the decision on what to do with the property? Or can the trust state that it is up to the successor trustee?

A: I assume the disagreement to which you refer is the unpleasantness that oft crops up among people who find themselves co-owning a piece of real estate. Some may want to sell; others want to hang on to the property; some want to scratch out the eyes of the others who do not agree with them. This can be--and too often is--a problem whether survivors come into the property through a trust or a will.

The trust document could direct the successor trustee to sell the property and divide the proceeds instead of transferring the property to the survivors. But if the trust does not direct this specifically, the beneficiaries will have to hash it out. If all else fails, any of them can go to court and ask for a partition--a judicial division of the property.

Last updated: Oct 22, 1999




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