How responsible is a trustee for a judgment against the trust? 14 Answers as of June 23, 2013

I am the trustee of my late mother's estate. A judgment has been brought against the trust. How responsible am I?

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McCleary & Associates, PC
McCleary & Associates, PC | David M. McCleary
Unless there are facts you have not stated, you are not personally responsible unless you have breached your duty to the trust.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/21/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
It depends on what you did wrong. W hat did you do wrong (besides the huge mistake of not having a lawyer in a lawsuit?)
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 6/23/2013
Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC
Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC | Timothy G. Kearney
Absent any fraud or breach of Fiduciary duty, you should have no individual liability.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 9/20/2011
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
You should refer this to the lawyer helping with the trust administration. Short answer, if you are the trustee then you are responsible because nobody else is. Are you culpable or liable? Those are different questions. If the judgment was unavoidable, no problem. If a reasonable person could have, should have avoided the judgment, there might be a problem.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 9/20/2011
Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
As Trustee of the Trust you are responsible for the management of the assets in Trust. If there is a Judgment against the Trust, you will be responsible for using the assets of the Trust to pay the Judgment, or if that is not possible or feasible to explain this to the Court. You should speak with an attorney to protect your interests and to advise you on your responsibilities.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 9/20/2011
    Paul Nidich, Attorney at law
    Paul Nidich, Attorney at law | Paul Nidich
    I'm not sure that you are not mixing up terminology. A probate estate has an executor. A Trust has a trustee. Since you state you are the trustee of your late mother's estate, I assume you mean you are the executor (if she had a will) or Administrator (if she did not have a will). Do you have an attorney for the estate? If so, she should be answering this question. If not, you, as executor, are not individually liable for any judgments against your mother or her estate. I'm also not sure if you mean someone has a judgment against the estate or simply has made a claim against the estate.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 9/20/2011
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    It depend on the terms of the trust and the type of judgment.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/20/2011
    Law Offices of Brian Chew
    Law Offices of Brian Chew | Brian Chew
    A trustee is not financially responsible for any debts of the trust. However, you do have a fiduciary responsibility to defend the trust against lawsuits. You would use the assets of the trusts to pay the legal fees if any.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/20/2011
    Martinson & Beason, PC
    Martinson & Beason, PC | Douglas C Martinson II
    As Trustee you only hold the assets in a fiduciary capacity for the benefit of the beneficiaries and would not be personally liable for any judgment against the trust. The beneficiaries could sue you if you did something improper with the trust assets (investing improperly and losing money or using the trust assets for something other than the benefit of the beneficiaries). I haven't seen many judgments against a trust so unless the assets were transferred to the trust to defraud a creditor (divorce, bankruptcy, etc) not sure how there would be a judgment against the trust. But if the court ordered you to transfer trust assets to a judgment creditor, you should abide by the court order, otherwise you could be personally liable for failure to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/20/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    Assuming the judgment is against the trust and not against you personally, you have no personal obligation. If the trust does not have the funds to pay the judgment, you may need to submit proof of that; but you would not be forced to go into your own pocket to pay. In either event, you should have an attorney review the trust for you as a trustee has fiduciary duties to all beneficiaries as well as possibly creditors and you do not want to take any action which would open you to personal liability.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/20/2011
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    The Trust is responsible. If you distributed assets from the Trust, you may be personally responsible. You probably should seek legal counsel to address the specifics of your case.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/20/2011
    Phinney Estate Law
    Phinney Estate Law | Jamie Clausen
    It depends upon the nature of the judgement. If the judgment is really a judgment against your mom for her debts and/or wrongdoing then the liability of the trust would be limited to the assets in the trust. If the judgement is about debts or wrongdoing since your mother's death you might also be personally liable. I strongly recommend that you consult an attorney to determine what should be paid and from whom.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/20/2011
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