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Does a trust over ride a will?

Dallas, TX |

I was told there was a will. My father asked me to be executrix, I agreed. Now, I am told there is a trust and that my name is not on it. Father has died, step-mother incapacitated and stepsister won't show me any papers. Just says I get nothing and can't see anything.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

You have a real mess on your hands and I do not think you will be able to sort it out without an attorney to assist you. There are a number of factors which may be involved and you do not have enough information, (either in your post, or most likely, at all), in order to make a cost benefit analysis on how to proceed.

Usually, when there is a Trust, there is also a Will, but the Will is intended to only be a "catchall" or "security net" in the event that all of the assets were not properly transfered to the trust(s). In most cases, all of the assets ARE transfered to the Trust(s) because the intent is to eliminate the need for probate administration.

You really need to know how the assets are titled before you would have any idea how to proceed. It is possible that all of the assets of your father and stepmother were jointly held. Upon his death, they all reverted to her, at which time she created a Trust and removed you as a beneficiary. It is also possible that there were two trusts, the assets were split evenly between them, and that you are a beneficiary under one or both trusts.

If you are a beneficiary, then you may be entitled to some form of notice by way of copies of the documents, accountings, etc. This is usually rare, until both parents have passed away.

If you are in a position to discuss these matters directly with your step-mother, that may be the best way for you to get the information. Your step-sister is apparently not inclined to provide you with any information, other than that you are not named as a beneficiary at all.

Without knowing more about the title of the assets, it is difficult to know how to proceed. I would check the public records, to see if you can discover anything about the assets and how they were held. If you find that everything was in joint names, then I fear that your step-sister may be telling you the truth. If you discover everything was in one or more trusts, then you would need to know what the trusts provide, before knowing what to do. You may not be able to get this information until after your step-mother dies, unless she is willing to tell you what is going on.

Good luck to you!

James Frederick

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER
Mr. Frederick is licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and has 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.

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Posted

You need an attorney to help sort the situation out. A trust can work concurrently with a will. Without reviewing the documents I cannot adequately answer this question.

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