What to do if the trustee of my aunt’s estate alleges that she was directed by my late aunt to take approximately 50% of my distribution and redirect it for use by a person?

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What to do if the trustee of my aunt’s estate alleges that she was directed by my late aunt to take approximately 50% of my distribution and redirect it for use by a person?

This person was not named as the beneficiary of these assets. These funds are going to be reported as distributed to me just as the trust directs. The alleged agreement was made so that funds could be used to support this other individual without jeopardizing his government assistance. This sounds unethical and seems like it probably violates several laws. Does the trustee have the authority to do this? She is already using the decedent’s credit cards for expenses not related to the administration of the Trust.

Asked on May 17, 2014 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It is completely illegal: trust income or assets may only be distributed as per the plain terms of the trust. If the person creating the trust wanted to do something other than the trust states, she would have had to have voided the existing trust and replaced it with a new one, with new instructions, or at least modified the trust in writing, properly signed and witnessed. It is also illegal for a trustee to use trust property or other property of the decedent for any expenses other than expenses of the estate, expenses to adminster a trust, or otherwise as directed by the documents creating a trust or by a will. The beneficiary(ies) of the trust, and/or his/her/their legal guardians (e.g if minor or incompentent) should consult with an attorney.

By the way, it is also illegal to hide income or assets so as to get more government assistance than a person is entitled to.


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