Co-trustee powers include the responsibility of managing a deceased person's assets, such as filing taxes and overseeing the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. A co-trustee who disagrees with the actions of other co-trustees in writing is not liable to the beneficiaries for the consequences of such actions.
If a trustee fails to accept an appointment to a trust with three or more trustees, the co-trustees are allowed to assume all the powers and duties allocated to the trustees jointly and execute the trust. A trustee can delegate a duty to a co-trustee using a written document, and can revoke such delegation through a similar document. Duties assigned to a specific trustee cannot be delegated. Duties cannot be delegated to a trustee who has been specifically excluded from such duties. If a co-trustee issues a written notice of a specific action to the other co-trustees and they do not oppose such actions in writing within 15 days, the law considers that they are in formal agreement.
An individual should understand the responsibilities of being a co-trustee in a family trust before accepting such a role. In many cases, a co-trustee faces difficult situations where relatives may accuse him of mismanaging the trust. It is challenging to fight close relatives in court over issues of managing a trust when one is executing the wishes of a deceased relative.