Picking adult children as trustees or estate executors is very common. To parents, it often feels very natural. They have a child who is good with numbers and can handle the job, and they know that the person they pick will be invested it doing it well. That’s what they’re looking for.
For instance, maybe a parent has set up an educational trust for three children. The oldest child is named as the trustee since they will likely be done with school and will no longer need the money by the time the parent passes away. They can simply give the other siblings access to the money when needed and help them pay tuition and other costs. It seems simple.
However, this is one thing that can lead to some serious disputes. Siblings may be more prone to arguing with one another than with a third party. They may not respect each other the same way. They may think that old rivalries — about who was the favorite child, for instance — are influencing the decisions.
For example, say that one child decides to go to a four-year college and the other wants to look into a trade school that just offers a certificate. The trustee interprets the trust as only applying to colleges and universities, not trade schools. They refuse to pay out for those educational costs.
Or, perhaps they do pay out the cost of the one-year trade school, but that younger sibling wants the “rest” of their money since they won’t have three more years of school. The trustee declines to give it to them, instead using it to help the sibling who is still in school.
These are just a few examples, but you can see how complicated the process gets. Siblings who are involved in these disputes need to know what options they have.