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socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37869
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Respondent in a Trust was ordered to produce an accounting

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Respondent in a Trust was ordered to produce an accounting which failed for several reasons. Is there such thing as "amnesty" for the respondent so that the petitioners (heirs) cannot sue the respondent (also acting limited successor trustee allowed permission from the court only to produce an accounting for the Trust for certain named dates)?

If the trustee was ordered to provide an accounting, then the trustee is in contempt of court -- unless the trustee can show that he/she was unable to comply for reasons beyond his/her control.

Assuming that the trustee can avoid the contempt, then the trust beneficiaries can continue to trial and ask the court to hold the trustee liable for any costs associated with the beneficiaries obtaining a forensic accounting of the trust, and for any misappropriations or mismanagement.

I realize that my answer may not be what you wanted to read, but you may as well know where you stand, so that you can plan your next moves.

Please let me know if I can clarify anything or further assist.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you ... my understanding from your answer is that the trustee is in contempt of court because the accounting that was produced failed. Is there such a thing as "amnesty" for the trustee because of the failed accounting?

The term, "amnesty" has no legal meaning in this context. A defendant is in contempt of court, where he has knowledge of a valid and enforceable order of a court, and he acts in conscious and willful disregard of the court order.

The defense to contempt is inability to comply for reasons beyond the defendant's control. Example: If the defendant could not complete the accounting because he did not maintain receipts for various expenditures, then that is not a valid defense, because the failure to maintain the receipts was within the control of the defendant. Conversely, if the defendant was unable to complete the accounting because the receipts were stolen during a home burglary, or a fire, then that may show inability to comply beyond the control of the defendant. However, even with a burglary or fire, if the defendant could have protected the receipts by making copies and placing them in storage, then once again, the defense would fail, and the defendant would be in contempt.

Hope this helps.
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