Your mom, the surviving parent, passes away, and one of your siblings or another relative becomes the successor trustee under mom and dad’s trust. Then, several months go by, and you, a beneficiary of your parents’ trust, get absolutely no notices, and you suspect that something is wrong. Moreover, you have requested information from the successor trustee, and the successor trustee has either refused to give you any information or says that he will send you some information, but then never does. You suspect that either the successor trustee is unable to get the job done or something worse may be going on –the successor trustee is taking money from mom and dad’s estate. Clearly, the trustee is out of control. What can you do?
After mom dies in this situation, the successor trustee has a duty to keep the beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed about the administration of the trust. Specifically, the trustee has the following duties;
When beneficiaries come to me and tell me that they have not received any of this information from the successor trustee, I recommend immediately sending the trustee a letter requesting a copy of the will and the trust, information about the trustee, and a report detailing the assets and liabilities of the trust, as set forth in the list above. Most of the time, the successor trustee cooperates in these situations, but occasionally they do not. If a trustee cooperates, then it is just a matter of monitoring the trustee’s activities until the final distribution occurs. However, when the trustee does not cooperate in providing this information, I recommend filing a petition with the court to force the trustee to provide the required information within a certain amount of time. In the petition, I also ask the court to consider removing the trustee, or for other sanctions, if the trustee fails to comply with the statutory requirements.
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