Estate Planning Attorney

The trustee for a trust should uphold a reasonably amicable relationship with beneficiaries. If the trustee fails to communicate, violates terms in the trust, uses the trust for personal benefit, or otherwise takes advantage of the role, beneficiaries can file a complaint to the court. It is in the best interest of the trustee to be respectful, responsible, and empathetic to beneficiaries of the trust. If dispute arises between beneficiaries, the trustee is to attempt to resolve the dispute so it doesn’t move forward to litigation. The trustee has a duty to make beneficiaries aware that the trust exists if they did not know already, and provide updates about how it is being managed periodically.

Q: If a beneficiary requests accounting statements, does the trustee have to provide them?

A: State law does require that a trustee sends beneficiaries information about financial transactions upon request. In most cases, the trustee is to provide a report of all transactions annually or upon termination of the trust. Maintaining records of how the trust is being used is an important role for the trustee. It isn’t uncommon for a trustee to consult with an attorney for help on efficient record keeping, and how to properly document all monetary transactions.

Q: What are the benefits of providing trust transactions to beneficiaries?

A: Cooperating with beneficiaries can help prevent the trustee from going through litigation and enduring additional stress. Transactions for the trust are to be documented anyway, so it is reasonable to share these details with beneficiaries. The beneficiaries can have a better understanding of the role of a trustee, and hopefully see just how much work is involved in managing the trust. If the beneficiaries are informed, it lessens the chances of a misunderstanding occuring.

Q: Can a lawyer be helpful for trust accounting?

A: Yes, an estate planning attorney St. Peters, MO trusts can review and confirm where accounting documents meet the required format based on trust law. If a trustee is not sure whether or not to make a decision on a trust-related matter, they can turn to their lawyer for advice. Even the most well-intentioned trustee may accidentally make a crucial mistake when managing the trustor’s property. It can take some pressure off of the trustee to have a lawyer assist with accounting and to be of support during any road bumps.

A lawyer can also be useful if conflicts happen between trustee and beneficiaries. A lawyer may be able to amend the situation, so all parties can avoid spending money and time attending court over a dispute.

Q: Are there different types of beneficiaries?

A: Yes, there are a few different types of beneficiaries for living trusts. Firstly, specific beneficiaries are those who receive specific property as instructed by the trustor. Secondly, primary beneficiaries are those who receive any property that was not designated for certain people. Lastly, alternative beneficiaries are those who receive property but only if the primary beneficiary were to pass away before the trustor. Beneficiaries can be the spouse, friends, relatives, or charity organizations.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Legacy Law Missouri for their insight into estate planning and trustees and beneficiaries.