You recently learned that your parents created a trust. Your sibling is named the Trustee. Although you are not a Trustee, you strongly suspect that you are a beneficiary. Your parents never gave you a copy, or, even if they did, you lost it. How do you get a copy of the Trust?
As a Beneficiary, Am I Entitled to a Copy of the Trust?
You are entitled to a copy of the Trust if you are a direct beneficiary. A direct beneficiary is a person who receives an immediate benefit from the trust. For example, if the trust is created and you have been given an immediate right to some portion of the income of the trust, then you are a direct beneficiary. You are entitled to a copy of the Trust if you are a direct beneficiary. You are also entitled to other relief, including, but not limited to, compelling and receiving an accounting, and compelling and receiving a distribution.
However, if you are a presumptive beneficiary, or contingent beneficiary, of a trust, then your rights may vary. A presumptive beneficiary, or a contingent remainder person, is somebody who receives an interest after an occurrence of an event. So, for example, if a trust is created for your parent’s benefit and you are to receive assets after your parent dies, then you are a presumptive beneficiary.
If you are a presumptive beneficiary, then your rights also depend on whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable. If the trust is revocable, then you, then, as a contingent beneficiary, you are not entitled to any information until the trust becomes irrevocable. Thus, you may not be entitled to a copy of the Trust until your interest vests. It all depends on what the Trust says so it is important to read the trust. If the Trust is irrevocable, then you may be entitled to some information about the trust, but, not necessarily an accounting of the trust assets.
You can get a copy of the Trust by simply asking for it. Once you know that your interest has vested, you can simply write a letter to the Trustee stating that you are legally entitled to a copy of the Trust and asking that the Trustee send it to you.
What if the Trustee Refuses to Provide a Copy of the Trust?
Then you can either tell the Trustee that you are going to take him or her to Court or you can Contact an Estate Attorney to help you. The estate attorney will typically write a demand letter and advising the Trustee that if the Trustee does not provide the Trust, that the attorney will have no choice but to compel the Trustee, pursuant to Surrogate’s Court Procedures Act 2102 for a copy of the Trust.
What Happens After I Get a Copy?
After you get a copy of the Trust, you may want to read it and then explore whether you want to compel the Trustee to provide an accounting of Trust assets, or compel a distribution of the Trust assets.
We can help you get a copy of the Trust so please feel free to contact us for help.
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