My mother was a Trustee of my living grandfather's trust for 10 years and his deceased mother's trust. The two trusts together and separate have a number of assets including a real estate holding company (a C Corporaiton). My grandfather has advanced dementia.
My mom had Leukemia and sent me the financials for the real estate company which was owned by both trusts and my grandfather's personal P&L. Then tragically my mom passed on two months ago.
My uncle (a sociopath) took over as Trustee and has refused to share any financials. It is unclear in my grandfather's trust if remainders are due financial data as there are pages that are illegible.
We questioned my Uncle's shady management and lack of transparency I just got a letter from my uncle's attorney stating we have to destroy any trust documents (which I assume includes financials). He's agreed to meet to discuss the business but if I destroy the documents, then I cannot have a lucid conversation about the current state of the business.
What would be my liability if I pull out the P&L from two months ago and go over it to try and challenge his claims about the financial state of the biz?
I hav e never heard of a need to destroy documents, and I certainly would not do it. was your uncle named in the Trusts as Successor Trustee? If not, your could petition to become trustee. In any case, a contingent beneficiary has limited rights, and generally not to the financials.
I guess I would not feel lawyerly unless I wrote a disclaimer to this answer - after all, that is what we lawyers are trained to do. So here it is. Disclaimer: Trying to provide a complete answer to a brief question without meeting the questioner and without getting all the facts is much like internet dating. Despite what you have been told by the person you have met online (and they tend to always put everything in the best light for themselves), once you meet them face to face you realize how much has been left out. People tend to bend the facts and there is always the other side to the story. So, this answer is about as valuable as the price that was paid for it. It should not be considered legal advice. It is meant as a general overview of how the law could apply to a very broad set of facts that may not have any applicability to the actual circumstances of the person making the question. It is hoped to provide some understanding of the broad field of law that could come into play. No attorney-client relationship has been formed with the questioner and no attorney client relationship was ever anticipated by my response to this question. I would also like to remind you that I am only licensed in the State of California, and the answer provided is based upon my knowledge of California law.
If your uncle is not performing as a fiduciary, putting the interests of the beneficiaries ahead of his own, as you say, he should be challenged by a petition to replace him as trustee. If you are a current beneficiary, not a contingent beneficiary, you have standing to challenge the trustee. If you are a current beneficiary you are entitled to copies of the trust, accountings, etc. You should hire your own attorney to represent you.
This response is a general one, and does not constitute legal advice. There is no attorney client relationship absent a written agreement.
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