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Inheritance Trustee

Reuven died and left his assets as a yerusha to his adult children in (separate) trusts. The children don’t like that the trustee who has control over distributions and how the assets are invested. Can they go to bais din and have bais din instruct the trustee to resign or give them the power to use the yerusha as they wish? If the assets are jointly owned can one yoresh force another to sell an asset so that they can have more liquidity?

Answer:

The question of trusts in Torah law is a questions that has not been widely discussed by poskim, and it is hard to know how beis din will see it.

Some have suggested the mechanism of keni al menas lehaknos (and other possible mechanisms) to explain the workings of a trust. Others, however, write that there is no Torah equivalent to a trust; see Prof. Nachum Rakover’s recently published Chok Ha-Ne’emanut, and the teshuvos at the back from Rav Zalman Nechemyah Goldberg and Rav Asher Weiss.

It is therefore hard to offer a clear answer concerning the question of dealing with the trustee.

Concerning the question of joint ownership, each partner has the right to split up from his partner. If the item cannot be split up, the right to split up would mean one partner buying out the other, or selling the item and splitting the revenue.

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