trust states that assets to be sold and divided at mother's death.sibling stated shortly after moving in that he didn't know if she could afford the house. i did not respond. then plan was to gift me for a couple of years to pay my share. i did not respond. i have been recently informed that 'mother intended for me to have the house and that's that.' will be addressing issue of asset distribution through court, but want to know if there are circumstances under which rent-free, utility free is allowed. trust also charged for maintenance and repairs made while successor trustee living in property with apparently no intent to sell. may i request reimbursement for rent and utilities and maintenance and repairs in a legal action?
You have a complicated set of facts. There are also considerations beyond your strict legal rights because you have the future relationship with your sibling to consider. Are there situations when the trustee could be allowed to stay at no cost in a house owned by the trust? I suppose so. But this would be a real gray area and it could certainly create a conflict of interest. The trustee has the duty to efficiently administer the trust. But if trustee is getting free housing, that could affect the trustee's judgment.
No one can really tell you what your rights are under a trust without being able to read and review the trust agreement in detail.
If you decide to pursue an action against the trustee, this would need to be done through the probate court. This will almost certainly polarize your relationship with your sibling. Before you consider this, you should meet with a probate attorney, review the facts of your situation and try to determine how best to proceed. If there is any way to work things out with your sibling, that might be the best resolution for everyone.
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Short answer: Get thee to an attorney ASAP. You have multiple issues which need to be addressed together. The language of the Trust is essential to any analysis. Otherwise, the very knowledgeable and experienced members of this panel are relegated to just guessing.
Both Mr. Frederick and Mr. Watling have correctly observed that your questions will be controlled primarily by the language of the trust. Not all trusts are well written, and no trust can deal with literally every contingency. So step one is for you to contact a capable trust and estates specialist to review the trust, listen to your story and let you know your options.
As a beneficiary, you have a right not only to a copy of the trust, but also to an "accounting" of assets & liabilities, income & expense.
As a trustee, your sibling is entitled to compensation (unless the trust says he isn't), which could be paid in the form of "free" (market value) rent. And one could argue that the trustee renders a service by keeping the house occupied so it can continue to be insured.
So this is probably not all "black and white" and the only way to figure it out is to get personal legal advice, preferably from a specialist who has seen this type of activity enough times to provide good counsel. I have a trusted colleague in the Y-town area to whom I could refer you if you need help finding an attorney.
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