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
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.
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Estate Planning Attorney
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.
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.
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