What to do if a Trustee abuses their power?

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What to do if a Trustee abuses their power?

My mother and father divorced when I was 3 and both remarried. 4 years ago ( when I was 17) my father passed away and left a $100,000 life insurance policy behind. It was my impression that this money was court ordered and intended for the use of taking care of me in his absence. Being that I was a minor, my mother was named primary beneficiary with myself as secondary. The money is set up in an account named “Trust of (my name)”. Yet my mother will not let me use the money to pay for my college, and insists it is her money.

Asked on September 23, 2011 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the ensuing problems.  So you are now 21 years old, correct?  Then you have the ability as an adult to look in to the matter on your own behalf.  Although this is a great way to start the process by getting some guidance in to what steps to take and what to look for, you are really going to need a person to help you - most likely an attorney - to figure out the particulars and legalities of the Trust and sort through your options.  Now, If it is a "regular" account that states that it is in trust for you, then it appears to have been an insurance policy set up per the terms of the divorce to take care of your Father's legal obligation to support you during your life time.  But if as you state she was listed as the primary beneficiary then from the outside looking in it seems it is her money.  The point here is that the two documents need to be read in conjunction with each other.  They can not be looked at separately.  And if you challenge your Mother's claim to the money - which is what is going to happen here - then that is an important factor.  Now, you also need to go down to the bank and speak with an officer about the account.  If it is an "In trust for" account let them know that you are now 21 and want to access the funds.  See what they say.  It will give you an idea of what legal proceeding is necessary.  Or there may be none.  Good luck.


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