What Can I Do If Sister Trustee Refuses to Communicate about the Trust?
In 2009, I developed seizures. I had a typical trust that when mother died my sister and I were to be co-trustees. In 2015, I was told that if the seizures continued I would only live another five years. My mother was bedridden and my sister brought an attorney into her room and she changed the trust because of my prognosis. My sister became trustee and total beneficiary if I died.Mom died in January 2017. Later that year, my doctor tried me on a new drug called Vimpat and I am now seizure free and President of my community.
But to get to the legal point, my sister has only given me the income and not anything else like a small distribution or my 1/3 share. She ignores my requests and bypasses questions. We live in different states. Do I have to start litigation?
Congratulations on your incredible recovery!
Do you have a copy of the trust? Anyone would have to see it to understand your rights, whether you have a right to principal distributions or they’re totally within your sister’s discretion. Either way, however, your sister has a fiduciary duty to you and must be transparent. This means she must provide you with a copy of the trust and annual accounts. Depending on the terms of the trust she may or may not have other obligations in terms of looking into your welfare and making disbursements for your support.
I would start by having an attorney review the trust to advise you as to your rights. Then she could write your sister a letter asking for accounts and explaining her duties to you as the beneficiary. If she is not responsive, the next step would be to seek her removal as trustee. Unfortunately, while an attorney in your state can advise you and write to your sister, any action to remove your sister may have to occur in the state where she is located, or perhaps in the state your mother lived in if that’s different.
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