My grandparents had a trust that stated that all bonds, estate and commercial property were to stay in the family in the event of death of one of the beneficiaries. Can the same lawyer change heirs without permission of the other beneficiaries? Did the lawyer have a fiduciary duty to uphold our grandparents wishes?
General Practice Lawyer
Irrevocable trusts normally are modified. The trust normally has the distribution provisions and processes.
Keeping property "in the family" may have issues especially if it is a restraint on alienation... I recommend you see an attorney
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It is not possible to answer your question without reviewing the trust document, and what exactly the attorney supposedly did to "change heirs."
I suggest you take the trust document to an estates and trusts attorney, have it reviewed, and get some specific advice on your rights. It is not possible to provide specific advice in this forum. There are many fine attorneys who practice trusts and estates law on AVVO.
Estate Planning Attorney
Agree with colleagues. You need to review the trust. If you need an attorney, go to the Sacramento Bar for a referral - http://www.sacbar.org/.
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Your question raises a couple of issues. First, the lawyer would have no power to change anything after your grandparents death. That said, if the lawyer was named as trustee, or hired by the trustee to represent the trustee, the lawyer would be able to act or assist in carrying out the terms of the trust.
Generally, the attorney does not owe any duties to the beneficiaries. That said, if the attorney is aiding the trustee in violating the trust, the attorney could have liability.
Also, regarding holding assets. Even if the trust directs certain assets to continue to be held in trust, the Trustee has a duty to diversify and manage the assets. To carry out that duty, the trustee may have to sell assets and buy other assets if they believe such conduct prudent.
I hope that helps. You really should seek out an attorney to assist and advise you, more than just asking questions on an online board.
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