Hi Kris. Absolutely, I think it's worth your while to go after them. First, anything signed on your mother's death bed can be successfully contested. All you have to show is one or more of the following: lack of requisite mental capacity, duress, coercion, mistake, fraud, and/or undue influence. Although you have the burden, when you have your fact situation that changes a long-standing estate arrangement, courts/juries easily find one, if not all, of the foregoing elements.
Second, the trust and its assets are not the personal piggy bank of the trustee. Rather, the trustee is obligated to administer the trust specifically pursuant to the terms of the trust. In addition, the trustee’s fiduciary duty to each beneficiary requires that the trustee provide each beneficiary a full inventory of trust assets and periodic accounting of every dime in and out of the trust. Failure to do so is a breach of the trustee’s fiduciary duty to the grantor of the trust and to the beneficiaries. Such a breach gives the beneficiaries cause to ask the trustee to resign and if the trustee refuses to do so, gives the beneficiaries the right to file a petition with the family court asking the court to order the trustee removed. And, if there has been any misappropriation of trust assets, the beneficiaries can also ask the court to award actual and punitive damages against the trustee.
So, clearly you have valid causes of action. Under my terms of service with JustAnswer, I'm not allowed to make a specific recommendation, but I can give you direction. You would want to either contact the state bar association or your nearest law school for a referral. I prefer the latter because they take great pride in their graduates and will take a more personal interest in making sure your referral is a good one because it will be a reflection of the school. But, this is not a complicated case so you would only need a 1-2 year lawyer rather than a more experienced lawyer with the higher billing rate that comes with that experience. And, given your facts, you should be able to get attorneys fees awarded to you as well.
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