What are my legal options to protect our benificiary status on a will and trust?

My grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side died over thirty years ago and left a Will for their estate. Their estate was designated to go to my mother’s kids my sister and I and not her personally, and she was able to still receive dividend payouts on the stock account for her entire life. Now I find out my mother is about to supposedly break the trust and get full control of the estate. I am meeting with my great Uncle who is the executor of the estate this week to talk about everything. What steps can I take to find out the details of the Will and estate accounts? Are Wills available at the court house of death city for public access? What questions can I ask the executor of the estate to figure out what is going on exactly?

Asked on March 20, 2017 under Estate Planning, Maryland

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the issues that have arisen.  Generally speaking, Wills that are filed are public record and yes, you can indeed get a copy (but you should have long ago if you were a beneficiary; your mother may have received it on your behalf if you were a minor). A Trust, however, does not have to be filed (unless it is a Testamentary Trust, meaning it was created in the Will then it is in the document itself) and is not a public record but again, you should have received a copy.  You can now ask for a copy of both from the Executor.  I would do so before you meet with him and bring the document(s) to an attorney to review.  Fiducairies of a Will and Trust (Executors and Trustees) have certain fiduciary duties under the law, one of which is to file an accounting with the court (trusts generally require it every year, wills not necessarily).  Those should be made available to you as well. Good luck. 


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