Do Both Co-Trustees Have to Sign All Trust Checks?

 In Revocable Trusts

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My mother appointed me (her daughter) as co-trustee to serve with her. Under “Additional General Provisions regarding Fiduciaries”, it states “Except to the extent, if any, specifically provided otherwise in this Agreement, references to the Trustee shall, in their application to a trust hereunder, refer to all those from time to time acting as trustee, and, if two trustees are eligible to act on any given matter, they shall act unanimously, …” We went to the bank to add my name to the trust checking account and they said we have to act together on every matter! Like both signing checks and paying bills. My mom can’t do these things anymore and I’m in in MA and she is in FL. What can I do?


Trusts typically have separate provisions for governing how decisions are made and how they interact with third parties. The provision which you cite means that all decisions must be made together. However, there may be another provision in the trust that permits each trustee to act on behalf of both trustees when dealing with third parties. This would permit either trustee to sign checks, implement investment decisions, and take other actions on behalf of the trust. This may seem contradictory, but it’s not.  Decisions must be made unanimously, but either trustee is able to carry out those joint decisions.

However, if your mother’s trust does not contain this standard provision permitting either trustee to carry out actions on behalf of both trustees, you have two options. First, your mother could amend the trust to revise the provision you quote. The other is for your mother to resign as trustee so that you can act independently on behalf of the trust.

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