What can we do if we can't find out details of my father's estate? 25 Answers as of October 16, 2013

My father passed away Aug. 3, 2013 and he had set up a trust for his beneficiaries. My sister and I can't get any information regarding the Trust because the middle sister is the "executor" and she is evidently stonewalling us on where the money is and how to get it, who it was left to, etc. Can we compel her to share any documentation that she has regarding the matter?

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Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
Yes. She administers the trust for the benefit of all beneficiaries. If she doesn't have a lawyer she should have one. Ask the lawyer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/16/2013
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
You may have to file suit to force her to share the information.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/11/2013
Law Office of Nathan Wagner
Law Office of Nathan Wagner | Nathan J. Wagner
Yes, because you are a beneficiary, the executor and trustee has a duty to keep you informed about the estate and the trust. You could petition the probate court to order her to do an accounting. You should talk to a local probate attorney who can help you with your situation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/10/2013
Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
As a beneficiary you are entitled to know what the trust provisions are and what the assets of the estate are. Failure to provide that information is grounds for removal. You should consult a probate attorney to make a formal request for the information and be prepared to file a motion for her removal as trustee if she fails to comply.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/10/2013
Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.
Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C. | Donald Scher
Yes, you can file a legal action in the probate division of the Superior Court to compel her to give you information about the trust. You did not say if a probate case has been opened, because many people set up trusts but fail to "fund" the trust and the assets of the decedent must be probated so that they can be distributed to the trustee of the trust. Note, a person is not the "executor" of a trust. A person is appointed solely by the Superior Court to be the Personal Representative (Executor is the old term) of the estate of the decedent and the probate is supervised by the court. It is common that a person who sets up a trust, appoints himself as the trustee, and then, in the event of disability or death, there is a "successor trustee" who is appointed to take over and administer the trust, according to the trust agreement, until it is terminated.
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 10/10/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    Hire an attorney. He/She can find out if there is an estate that was opened in probate court for your father or the trust that was established was being executed in lieu of probate.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/10/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    You father passed away recently and your sister as executor of the estate has many duties to complete before she can distribute the assets of the trust. Give her another six months or so before you challenge her actions or inactions.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Robert E. Giffin | Robert E. Giffin CPA
    Go the local probate court where your sister was appointed executor and the probate file is open to public inspection. The estate will be in your fathers name
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Yes, as a "potential" beneficiary, you are entitled to a copy of his trust. If you believe your sister is not administering the trust correctly, you can file a petition with the local probate court and demand a copy of the trust.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire
    Neal M. Rimer, Esquire | Neal M. Rimer
    The Trustee is required to give notice to all beneficiaries following the death of a settlor within 60 days of the death. If your sister has obtained an attorney, hopefully, that attorney knows the law and will prepare the notice to be sent out timely. That notice will advise you that you have the opportunity to request a copy of the trust if the trust is not supplied to you with the notice. If you do not get the required notice, I would recommend that you demand a copy of the trust in writing to your sister and notify her that she should obtain an attorney to represent her. That way she will get the proper advice (hopefully she hires a knowledgeable attorney who is familiar with wills and trust) and things will be done legally. I would expect an administrative trust to be created to round up all the assets, pay all the liabilities, and render all beneficiaries an accounting of all activities and then distribute the funds to the proper parties. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Geoff Germane, Attorney at Law | Geoff Germane
    You are legally entitled to an accounting of the trust estate administration and an inventory of the estate itself. You can get a court order that directs her to provide this, but it will be cheaper if you can impose on her without court intervention. We have helped clients in similar situations before and can write a strongly worded letter on your behalf that will hopefully create some positive movement.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Yes. In Oregon she is required to send you notices and to keep you reasonably apprised of the progress of the administration of the trust. Talk to a lawyer, between you and your sister you can afford a few bucks to make sure the trust administration goes straight. If there's enough money for a trust, then there probably is 6 figures "on the table." Don't go cheap and get ripped off because you won't spend a few hundred dollars to have the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer. But also, cool your jets. Dad was alive for, what, 70 years? Why do you think his trust should be settled in 70 days? Settling an estate should be done slowly, smoothly, carefully, deliberately. The only rush is whether there are tax reasons to want to get particular things done by the end of the calendar year. After that, your next target is 8/3/14 the estate probably should be settled by then, unless there are special circumstances. So, get a lawyer; have your lawyer just poke the trustee's lawyer. Then trustee's lawyer knows that his client will have to toe the line, and things will get done as they're supposed to be done.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    Yes, you can make a written request to her with a deadline for her to comply. If she fails to provide the documentation to you within the requested deadline, you can petition the court to compel her to provide each named beneficiary with a copy of the trust.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    Yes, she is required to give you a copy of the trust instrument on request, and to keep you reasonably informed about the trust. You are also entitled to a copy of his will. If she doesn't you can file a petition with the court to have her surcharged and/or removed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Obtain for yourself beneficiary probate/trust litigation attorney to represent you to compel the sister to produce the trust documents and also file a petition for an accounting. and possibly have her removed from the trustee position of the trust. DO NOT DELAY, as she could waste the assets and you not be able to recover from her.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Gottlieb & Goren, P.C.
    Gottlieb & Goren, P.C. | Aaron W. Goren
    File for probate proceedings on the basis that you have no will. The Court will appoint a personal representative, perhaps you, who can compel your sister to share the documentation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Law Offices of R. Christine Brown | R. Christine Brown
    Pursuant to Probate Code 16061.7, on the death of a Trustor of a Trust, when the trust becomes irrevocable; the Trustee must provide each beneficiary of the trust and every heir of the deceased Trustor with information regarding who is administering the trust, as well as a copy of the Trust and all amendments.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Law Office of Larry Webb
    Law Office of Larry Webb | Larry Webb
    You may need to file a petition with the court to compel production of the trust and or to remove the trustee.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    Yes but you need an attorney to be efficient at this.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    You should speak with an attorney where your father resided to determine your approach and rights. If you are beneficiaries then you should be able to get some information from her. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq.
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq. | Neil J. Lehto
    Open a probate estate for your father and see what happens.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    The Executor only handles the probate of an estate, not the trust. A trustee handles the trust. As beneficaries you can demand an accounting. If she refuses, file a motion in court to compel her to disclose.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    Yes. Send a written demand to your sister for a copy of the trust. She has 60 days to provide it to you. If she does not do so, I would petition the court to supervise the trust.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
    O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
    In Maryland, if one cannot receive details regarding a trust that may be for one's benefit, one may try to petition the circuit court to assume jurisdiction of the trust estate (take over the middle sister's role of trustee). Someone bringing this claim can request the court order the trustee or custodian of the trust to provide a copy of the trust document(s).
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/9/2013
    Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch | Jeffrey R. Gottlieb
    Yes. The trustee and/or executor has fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries. If normal lines of communication do not work, then court action can be initiated.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/9/2013
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