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Is there a time limit in executing a trust?

Park Rapids, MN |

I am named in a trust. The death occurred over 1 year ago. The trustee is a procrastinor (family member) and nothing seems to be getting done. Is there a time limit in the execution of the trust. Suggestions for next steps? I know that the trustee does have a law firm involved.
The trustee also does not approve of the trust and has approached several people named, to consider changing the direction of the trust, so everyone gets an equal share. The trust was drawn up in Oregon.

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Attorney answers 4


The trustee has a duty to administer the trust according to its terms. If the trust called for a distribution, for example, upon the death of the grantor, such a distribution should have been made within a reasonable time therafter. Is the trust being administered in Oregon or Minnesota (or elsewhere)? You would do well to consult an attorney in the primary place of administration. A trustee cannot just change the terms of the trust because they "don't approve." Each state has its own mechanisms to judicially, or nonjudicially, with the consent of all beneficiaries, modify a trust, but these are limited. An attorney can help you to make sure you receive all of the benefit the grantor intended you receive.

This is not intended to be legal advice or to create an attorney/client relationship.


As attorney Frank has stated, the Trustee will have a reasonable period of time to handle the trust administration. If the death occurred over one year ago, then chances are that the Trustee should be doing things like preparing an income tax return, paying expenses, etc.

If the Trustee has reasons for delaying the administration (due to a problematic asset, issues with the administration, etc.), then it is unlikely that a court will remove the Trustee for that reason alone. However, if they have no good reason and are just procrastinating to attempt to find some way to breach their duty by not administering the trust in the manner in which it was drafted, then you will want to hire an attorney in the jurisdiction in which the Trust is being administered and that attorney can bring an action to remove the Trustee for breach of his or her duties to the beneficiaries of the trust.

Be careful though because in some jurisdictions an action against the Trustee in this manner may trigger a "no contest" clause which could cause you to be considered to be disinherited for purposes of the administration. An attorney in the jurisdiction where the trust is being administered will be able to give you advice about how to handle this issue in such a way as to encourage the Trustee to act and to protect your portion of the inheritance as well.

Just because the trust was drafted in Oregon does not mean that the trust is necessarily being administered in Oregon. Usually there are a multitude of factors that go into that determination (where is the Trustee located, where are the assets located, what does the trust code say of the state in which the Trustee is administering the trust, etc.). This can sometimes be one of the more difficult aspects of figuring out where these types of actions should be brought, but in some states as well the Trustee is required to give you a Trustee's notice that provides the address of the place of administration. If you received such a notice then that is a good place to start.

Good luck with your case.


Here is a suggestion. If there is a law firm involved, you should contact them and asked to be brought up to date and kept up to date with the developements in the estate and trust administration. If possible get the response in writing. Depending on whtether the response makes sense to you, you may want to hire an attorney to get involved to protect your interests.

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The three previous answers say virtually everything that there is to say. You do not say which state the person was a resident of at the time of his/her death although you say that the trust was prepared in Oregon. The trust may indicate that a certain state's law is to control. If so, I would research that state's law regarding trust administration.

However, the first thing that I would do is have an attorney right the trustee a letter explaining to him/her that he must begin administering the trust immediately.

I am not an attorney in the state of Oregon and this is not meant to be legal advice!