Can the trustee, my mother, sell a house that was placed in a Trust without my permission if I’m the beneficiary?

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Can the trustee, my mother, sell a house that was placed in a Trust without my permission if I’m the beneficiary?

She doesn’t like the way I am behaving? My father died about 4 years ago and my mother remarried a man that is not very nice. The past 4 years I have been viciously verbally attacked for no reason. My grandmother who is grantor of the trust died last summer and made my mother the trustee in which both my brother and I are the beneficiaries. I have asked numerous times for a copy of the trust in which has not been provided. I have been told that she can get the distributions in which she was going to try to reinvest and was told that she couldn’t. She also tried to take out $160,000 to buy an elevator which she says my grandmother wanted for a church and found out she couldn’t. She then talked to the lawyer to see if she could purchase homes for me and my brother and they have been put in the Trust but she could only pay the exact amount of the house to place it the Trust. Then, 2 weeks ago, she attacked me again at my son’s graduation and has threatened that she can take my property if I do not go to my nephew’s birthday part on Thursday in which I know that she will attack me again. Is she allowed to do this with my property or does she have to go through a process in which I can protect myself from her abuse.

Asked on May 23, 2018 under Estate Planning, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A trustee has four related duties, all of which fall under the heading of her "fiduciary duty":
1) To follow the terms of the trust (i.e. any instructions found in the documents creating the trust); 
2) To act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, and loyally towards them;
3) To use reasonable care in doing 1) and 2) above; and
4) To not engage in "self dealing"--that is, to not divert trust funds or property for her own purposes or benefits.
If a beneficiary believes that a trustee is violating one or more of these duties or obligations, he or she can bring a legal action in county court for an "accounting" (as it was traditionally called; your state may have a different name for it). In this legal action (or lawsuit), the trustee is asked to "account" for her actions as trustee. If a court determines that she has done or is doing something wrong, the court can order her to do something, to not do something, to return or repay money or assets to the trust, and can even replace her as trustee. This kind of action can be substantially more complex that, say, a small claims case; if you want to explore this option, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney.


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