Can an attorney/trustee be disbarred/in major trouble for withholding money from a trust beneficiary?

My friend just found out that an attorney (and her trustee nephew) withheld 2 life insurance checks (worth $108K) from her for over 6 months without telling her they had them. My friend’s mother passed away about a year ago and the estate received the checks 6 months ago. At the time, her car had broke down and she needed money to fix or get a new one, yet the “trustee”/estate attorney never notified her she had the money. Is there any legal action she can take against them for withholding the money from her for that long of period?

Asked on October 27, 2011 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your friend's loss and for the problems that she has been having.  But do not be so fast to jump on the attorney.  If the trust was the beneficiary of the life insurance policies then he did nothing wrong for collecting them.  Further, the terms of the trust will govern what is and what is not disbursed and when it is to be disbursed, if he can make partial disbursements prior to settleing the trust, etc.  While it is true that attorneys are held to a higher standard in many instances it can not assumed that they have intentionally with held information.  If you are unsure about his actions take a copy of the trust to another attorney to review and ask for an accounting.  Good luck.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.