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Can a revocable trust be objected to, for non compliance of successor trustee?

Commerce Twp, MI |

My Great aunt left a revocable trust with a successor trustee. She passed away Dec 2010. no communication with the beneficiary's from trustee, and/or any copies of trust or compliance with beneficiary's at all. Beneficiary's all agree to petition courts, can we have her removed? or should we petition for the court to look over the situation? We don't want to tie it up longer, but also we want to be aware of how she is handling the estate, and why the beneficiary's are not informed. The trust states trustee can be removed. also the trust was kept out of probate. we are just confused on how to proceed, it has been 18 months with no communication. All the beneficiary's are in agreement of doing what has to be done to protect there shares.

The copy of the trust was picked up from the lawyer who did the trust, about a month ago. We always knew we were benificiary's, and the trust states what shares each benificiary would receive. The lawyer had no further information, the successor trustee is not using an attorney. The trust has real estate and assets to be divided into shares to 13 benificiarys. Including the successor trustee. The trust does not give an amount of assets only states that under 25 yrs of age can only receive $100,000 until their 25th birthday unless for school etc. the trust is known to be in the several millions, the trustee is say she " is fixing up an old house" which is not agreed upon by the benificiarys

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

I am a little confused. If you know that you are beneficiaries, then you must have a copy of the Trust. If that is the case, then the only real question is whether or not the trust was "funded." By that, I mean, did the trust have any assets titled in it? If so, then you are right to petition the court and have her explain why she has not properly administered the trust.

If you do not have a copy of the trust, the situation is a little less clear. It is possible that you are not beneficiaries at all, in that case, and that you may not be entitled to a copy, depending on your relationship. Heirs would be considered interested parties of the trust, but it is not clear whether you would be considered an heir or not, without knowing more about the surviving family members.

If there are no assets in the trust, it does not matter what the trust says. It would only apply to assets titled in the trust. If the trust says I leave everything to my great niece, and all of the assets are titled jointly with the trustee, or name the trustee as the beneficiary (in her individual name), then the trust does not apply.

You may not be able to practically determine this without going to the court. Unfortunately, it could be expensive, if you need to go that route. You do not mention if you know your aunt's attorney or not. Presumably, he or she drafted the trust and may be able to give you some or all of the information you need. I would try to contact the attorney before you do anything else.

Having the trust document is only part of the battle.

James Frederick

I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.

Asker

Posted

The copy of the trust was picked up from the lawyer who did the trust, about a month ago. We always knew we were benificiary's, and the trust states what shares each benificiary would receive. The lawyer had no further information, the successor trustee is not using an attorney. The trust has real estate and assets to be divided into shares to 13 benificiarys. Including the successor trustee. The trust does not give an amount of assets only states that under 25 yrs of age can only receive $100,000 until their 25th birthday unless for school etc. the trust is known to be in the several millions, the trustee is say she " is fixing up an old house" which is not agreed upon by the benificiarys and really has no value therefore is kind of pointless. We know these things from driving by the property. The trustee never contacted any benificiary about trust death etc. it also states in the trust for her to send copies of everything being done with the estate to each beneficiary. We were unsure of how to go about this, and if bringing it to court would tie it up even longer.

Asker

Posted

What petition would be used? There are so many and I'm not understanding which one to use to start the court proceedings

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick

Posted

This is the kind of thing that you would need to draft your own petition, as there is nothing that would really fit, otherwise. You need to let the judge know what has taken place and the multitude of duties the trustee has failed to comply with. Under the circumstances, I think the trustee is VERY foolish for not using an attorney, and I think that you are going to need to take this to the court, as there does not appear to be any other way to get her to comply with the terms of the trust, AND with Michigan law.

Posted

I agree with Atty. Frederick and would add that there may be options that you have not considered. It would be wise to talk to an attorney about the details of your issue.

Most firms, including my firm, offer a free consultation. Take advantage of it!

Please let me know if I can help further.

Asker

Posted

I will contact your firm for a free consultation. What petition would be used to petition the court for her explanation on why she has not properly administered the trust?

Posted

Its a relatively simple process..
Write a letter to the trustee asking for an accounting of the trust
Hire a local attorney (before or after the above)
The attorny can file a motion for an accounting and to remove the successor trustee in the probate court in the county where your aunt lived. That will start the process.

Answering this question with general knowlege of the law does not create an attorney client relationship and attorney cannot be held responsible for how the questioner uses this information.

Asker

Posted

Thank you, we have actually wrote the trustee a letter yesterday. Now we planned to file a petition with the courts today, seems how my brother has made this attempt with a letter in the past we assume she will once again ignore the request. We are planning on going in for a consultation with an attorney, we are kind of lost, but read up on all the laws, and information online. The hardest part for us is not knowing how to read some things and knowing only an attorney will be able to understand the wording in the trust. It's hard for us to know we are reading it correctly.

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