October 28th, 2022 in Trusts
The trustee of my parents’ trust will not distribute the assets. What can I do? Dealing with a trustee who thinks they can do whatever they want is frustrating and unfair. As a beneficiary, it is infuriating dealing with a trustee who is power hungry. You likely feel powerless and helpless as the beneficiary. The trustee may be telling you that he can do whatever he wants and threatening you if you question the trustee’s actions.
It may feel like you do not have any power but the opposite is true. The trustee should be administering the trust for the beneficiary’s benefit. If the trustee is doing his job properly or being adversarial to the beneficiaries, the court has the power to remove the trustee. The trustee does have some discretion but that discretion is not absolute.
When the beneficiary believes the trustee has engaged in misconduct, the beneficiary has the power to stop the trustee. The beneficiary can petition to the court to compel the trustee to provide a formal accounting and to distribute the funds. The beneficiary can also file a petition to redress the improper actions the trustee has taken and hold the trustee financially responsible for any improper actions.
In most cases, there are options can include litigation. The beneficiary can review the trust’s records and the trustee and beneficiary can negotiate a settlement without resorting to a court action. If the matter is hotly contested, there may need to be court intervention. The probate court can order the trustee to make distributions, limit or modify the trustee’s authority or remove the trustee altogether. An experienced litigator can discuss each option with you regarding your specific facts and circumstances and provide a recommendation to protect your beneficial interest in the trust.
In my experience many beneficiaries wonder when they should speak with an attorney regarding their situation. Many beneficiaries hope the situation will work itself out or is not serious enough. It is easier to prevent the trustee from continuing to take action than it is to get the funds back after they have been taken. Contact an experienced attorney for assistance in this situation.