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Can I appear pro se in a suit for modification of a trust in MA

New Bedford, MA |
Filed under: Trusts

My parents agreed to place their assets in trust with the understanding that it would protect their assets and take of my mother after my father's death. There is now a dispute between trustees and we have been told that the trust has no provision that my mother be beneficiary. For the 1st 6 years the trust was in existence, it did in fact, pay bills for my mother, therefore I feel that this proves the intent was to do so. Neither my mother, nor I, have the thousands of dollars for an attorney to represent her. Can I appear, on her behalf, with her pro se to ask that the trust be either modified or dissolved. There is also no proof as to how the trust was to be funded. My parents sold the property, received nothing, and a mortgage was assumed between the buyer and the trust.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Without knowing more, or having the opportunity to review the facts as well as the trust language, your mother may have an argument for a constructive trust. However, these arguments are fact specific, and the process drought with legal and semantic pitfalls. I would advise against going it without an attorney.

    Legal disclaimer: DISCLAIMER This answer is provided for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site cannot be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices law in the State where this offense is charged and/or wherein the legal issue arises; and, who has experience in the area of law you are asking questions about and with whom you would have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question, or in the State in which your particular issue has arisen.

  2. I agree with Atty. Kinder that the complexities here require that you at least spend a little money to sit down with an attorney with the trust, go over all the facts, and get advised on a course of action. Unless you are an attorney, you cannot represent your mother in court; she would have to speak for herself. There seems to be a lot going on here, and I would not be penny-wise and pound foolish. This is not any easy issue to handle on one's own.

  3. You may very well be able to represent yourself Pro Se, and if you have power of attorney for you mother, you may be able to represent her as well. However, just because you may be able to do this, doesn't mean that you should do this.

    As you have heard from the other respondents, your fact pattern sounds quite confusing. You would be best to either have an attorney represent you or at least consult with one before your court appearance.

    Good Luck!

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