How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33717
Experience:  15 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
19958803
Type Your Estate Law Question Here...
Barrister is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My Mother just died, my father died one year prior. My

Customer Question

My Mother just died, my father died one year prior. My sister is the executor of their living trust which she claims has approximately $200,000 of assets. I found the breakdown of her assets hand-written by my sister in 3/2015 for my mother that showed assets in excess of $350,000. My mother lived in an independant living apartment and her social security and other income covered the costs of. Other than that, my mother lived on very little money. How can I ask for all her accounts and balances and find the "missing" money to be sure it is distributed properly. My mother had accused my sister of stealing from her in the past, and I am very worried that she is somehow going to try to keep the other $150,000 that she has not accounted for. We live in Washington state.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

.

If sister is the "trustee" of a living trust for mother, that would now be irrevocable since mother's passing. This means that if you are a beneficiary of the trust, you have a legal right to request a full copy of it as well as an "inventory" of all assets that are in it.

.

The problem here is that while mother was living, the trustee doesn't have to account to anyone but her. So if she took money out of the trust improperly, it would be hard to prove that unless you filed a suit against her and got a court order to subpoena all the bank records for the past few years to show what money was in the trust and when it was taken out.

.

So at this point, your first step would be to send them a certified letter requesting a copy of the trust and an inventory of assets and then proceed further from there if she doesn't disclose what you think all the assets are.

.

.

thansk

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
you are saying that she could have taken money out of the accounts without my mother's knowledge prior to her death? I am sure she would have needed my mother's signature for that, which she would not have given. I am more concerned that once my mother passed, she withdrew funds at that point and is trying to not let me know about those accounts. Unfortunately for her, I have a detailed list of the accounts and their balances from exactly one year ago. She also had life insurance but not sure of that amount.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Am I able, as an heir, to request statement balances directly from my mother's investment banks?
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

So you are saying that she could have taken money out of the accounts without my mother's knowledge prior to her death? I am sure she would have needed my mother's signature for that, which she would not have given.

.

Potentially yes. The trustee controls the assets in the trust, not the grantor. So if the assets were in the trust, the trustee could potentially take them out without the grantor's (maker) knowledge.

.

I am more concerned that once my mother passed, she withdrew funds at that point and is trying to not let me know about those accounts.

.

That is easily discoverable because you have a right to an accounting and inventory as of the moment of mother's death.

.

Am I able, as an heir, to request statement balances directly from my mother's investment banks?

.

No, as I mentioned it is the trust that owns the assets, not mother personally. The trust is an entirely separate legal entity, like a company, from the person who set it up. And the companies holding assets for the trust will only respond to the trustee as the legal representative for the trust.

.

.

thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Even though the will says all assets should be divided equally? I have no recourse? My sister was not in charge of my mothers investment accounts prior to her death. What about accounts not part of the original trust?
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 months ago.

Ok, let me back up a bit here and clear up some confusion... You are using the terms "Trust" and "will" and "executor" interchangeably and they don't go together. If there is a will and a trust, they are two completely different things....completely.

.

A trust is administered by a a trustee and owns all the assets in it in the trust's name. It does not go through probate.

.

A will is administered by an executor and controls all the assets in a deceased's name when they die and it goes through probate.

.

So if an asset is in a trust, it is not in the deceased's estate and is not controlled by their will.

.

For example mother passes and her house deed is still in her name....that is then an estate asset that is controlled by her will. But if she deeded the house over to the trust while living, and the deed says the "Suzy Smith Revocable Living Trust" is the owner on the deed, then it is in the trust and her will has nothing to do with it. The trust controls what happens to it..

.

.

thanks

Barrister

Related Estate Law Questions