If you are the beneficiary of a trust but lack critical details about the trust, most states have streamlined procedures in place that allow you to obtain information without the need for a full court proceeding. As a trust beneficiary, you are entitled by law to certain information regarding the trust and the streamlined procedures help you enforce your rights.
Why Are There Streamlined Procedures?
Typically, a beneficiary may have trouble getting information when there are difficult family dynamics and/or a lack of communication. Perhaps, grandchildren have been told that they are entitled to some portion of a trust created by their grandparents but they don’t know much else about the trust. They may be unaware of who the trustee is of the trust and therefore, they do not know who to ask for information. Alternatively, they know the trustee but the family is estranged and the trustee won’t cooperate in providing information.
In any of these situations, the streamlined process offers an efficient solution for beneficiaries to get enough information to determine their rights.
What Are the Streamlined Procedures?
The streamlined procedures vary by state. In New York, the procedure falls under the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 2102. It requires that a beneficiary first request the desired information directly from the trustee. If the trustee fails to provide the information, the beneficiary may commence a court proceeding requiring the trustee to “To supply information concerning the assets or affairs of an estate relevant to the interest of the petitioner when the fiduciary has failed after request made upon him in writing therefor.” As part of this proceeding, the beneficiary can also request a signed copy of the trust and any amendments to the trust.
In Connecticut, under Connecticut General Statutes § 45a-499kkk, a trustee has a duty to keep qualified beneficiaries of a trust reasonably informed about the administration of the trust and the material facts necessary for the beneficiaries to protect their interests. This includes providing a copy of the trust upon request. A beneficiary can also commence a proceeding in Probate Court for an accounting by the trustee which will inform the beneficiary about the administration of the trust, including any distributions made by the trust.
Do You Need an Attorney to Use the Streamlined Procedures?
Although the procedures are meant to be simpler to use than other court proceedings, our attorneys can advise you regarding your rights and what exactly you are entitled to and help you avoid unnecessary delays in obtaining information about the trust. If you need assistance with learning about a trust, contact us for a consultation.