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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116710
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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I have an estate/trust law question regarding my Father

Customer Question

I have an estate/trust law question regarding my Father (parents) estate.
I have asked my Parents (specifically) my Fathers Trust—atty several times for a copy of his original trust and for a copy of his –will-- AND my mothers –will--. I want BOTH their wills and the original trust document.
I have been given copies of amendments of the “original trust”—but the atty refuses to give me the original trust and the wills. In spite of the fact that these amended trusts reference the original trust many times and I am a beneficiary. And there is a question of whether or not my Mother was competent at the time of my Father’s passing when she became the successor trustee to my Father’s trust. And even prior to that. She was not displaying signs that she was competent. (Physically and cognitively) Ultimately she made changes that were not rational---The result for me-- as a beneficiary was not good—I need to see the original trust. And the wills. Don’t I have a right to see these documents? I believe my siblings (they are beneficiaries and a couple are now Trustees) have seen them—as my siblings and/or beneficiaries or as successor trustees or POA. Whatever capacity they have seen them—it has given them the knowledge and understanding that has given them the power and influence which they have used to their benefit. Do I have to appeal to a probate court? And if I opened a probate on a trust—would that force them to share these documents with me. Or can I get the atty to send them to me without going thru the court filings and expense? What would be the actions or filings that I would need to do to do this? Can I do it on my own? Right now they want me to sign off on closing the estate—but I do not feel comfortable doing this until I can fully understand that nothing has been done wrong here. That my Father’s true and initial wishes have not been altered by influence. Which it seems to be the case. And my Mother’s wishes as well. It seems clear that my siblings were influencing her and manipulating her when she was not well mentally and physically—esp manipulating her to make her rely on them. Esp my brother. But I witnessed a lot after my Dad passed. I also feel that my Mother—was not handling her duties as a Successor Trustee (after my dads death) with complete competence and responsibly. She did not inform all of the beneficiaries that they were (in fact) beneficiaries. She did not inventory my Dad’s estate or keep any accounting records of the financials of the estate—she had no clue what she was doing. She did not send statements to the beneficiaries or allow any of us to challenge the estate. At least not me—because she did not inform me that I WAS a beneficiary. And my siblings were handling a lot of these things for her. (read for themselves for their benefit) Which also speaks to influence on her and how she was handling the trust. i.e. what she should do with the money/or estate management of the trust—which was her job—not my siblings job. But if she was not able to do it—and she left it to them to handle—then she was not competent –or capable-- to serve as a trustee. Her atty and others should have informed all the beneficiaries of this. So. How do I make this known to the right probate authorities? Now they have asked me to sign off on the estate but there is a clause that says with my signature I will not bring any legal action against my two siblings (as the Trustees of the estate) if I am paid my share of the trust. Which says to me –once I take my payout then I can’t hold them accountable for any influence for my father’s separate trust or the trust or my mother’s trust. They have two trust closing documents that they want me to sign for payout. It is not clear if there is a deadline for payment –or if others cannot close the trust if I do not sign or other cannot get paid. Or if I can hold them accountable or say I do not have confidence in them as trustees. But it seems to go against the spirit of the trust—or the whole point of a trust that the representatives/the people that are now managing it (the trustees) are asking me not to hold them accountable and I cannot do so in any kind of litigation if I am paid and I find that they ARE in violation of the trust—because of influence or other wrong doing.
How can I get paid and still have this option?
How can they put that clause in there?
How can I protect myself and ask the probate courts to look out for me when I am the disabled sibling without any money to pay for an expensive atty. I also live at a distance.
Is there a deadline on when I have to sign the documents –as a beneficiary—to claim my distributions of the trust? Can they close the trust if I have not claimed my distributions?
Is there a deadline on when I have to sign the documents –as a beneficiary—to claim my distributions of the trust? Can they close the trust if I have not claimed my distributions?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

If you are a beneficiary of the trust and the attorney is not providing you the documentation you need to see your beneficial bequests, then you have no choice but to go to court and file suit to obtain that information.

You do not open probate on a trust, a trust does not go through probate, you have to sue for breach of the trust and then you can get the documents through the discovery process.

You must have an attorney file any suit against the trust, since there are multiple beneficiaries involved and as such you cannot represent their rights as well as your rights.

If the trust has a no contest clause though, this could cause you to lose the right to take anything from the trust. So if you engage a local attorney they will contact the trust attorney and they will get to look at the trust to make the determination as the attorney will show the trust to the other attorney, but not give them a copy in most cases unless suit is filed.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
but what about the Wills--they are not --technically--a part of the Trust. Don't I have a right to see my parents wills? And why do I have to sign that I will nto hold my siblings( as Trustees) to be not accountable for their actions of mishandling the trust --to get my distribution of the trust before they can close? AND can they close without my signing off or can others get their distributions? Is there a time limit on when I HAVE to sign to get my distribution? Or can I wait till I am ready to sign?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also can I sue them in another court for damages? against me or my parents for their influence and theft of the estate or abuse of me and my parents?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They exploited me --when I was taking care of my parents--and then abused me--personally --emotionally and financially.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They also did not follow my parents wishes. according to their POA (medical and other) or the wishes of the Trust.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you please answer the questions above--thanks
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

You may not have rights to see the wills, unless they have been submitted to probate and if they have been, then they would be in the probate court to go see as they are public record. If there was a will, they had to be probated. If the will merely said everything goes to the trust, that is all you will find in the probate court.

You DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN anything you do not agree to unless they show you the documents and I am presuming you have told the attorney that you will not sign until he shows you all of the documents.

You can only sue them for damages if you have the evidence you have been damaged. You need to get the trust first, so engaging an attorney to go look at the trust first is your best first move. If those wills and trusts have a clause saying anyone who challenges it would not inherit, you would not want to file suit because if you do you would get nothing unless you have the evidence of the fraud you are saying above, which your attorney has to evaluate.

Thus, your first step here is getting a local trust and estates attorney to represent you and they will be able to get to look at the trust and will first to evaluate your position to know how you can best proceed to protect your rights.

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