Very often trusts have more than one trustee. This way different trustees can bring different skills and knowledge to the role. For instance, a bank and a family member may share the responsibility so that the bank can take care of investments and accounting while distribution decisions take into account the family member’s knowledge about the beneficiary’s situation and needs.
We are often asked, however, whether every trustee has to sign every check issued by the trust. The answer is no. Virtually every trust provides that any trustee may act on behalf of the trust and that third parties should be able to rely on what any trustee tells them.
That said, most trustees also provide that all decisions must be made by either a consensus of all of the trustees or by a majority. But these are two different issues: decisionmaking and representing the trust. Writing a check is acting for the trust, and any trustee should be able to do so.
Of course, the person creating a trust could change this standard and require that all trustees always act together. The problem with doing so is that it could be quite cumbersome and foul up the operation of the trust.