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Thread: Amendment made a mess of Trust. What to do?

  1. #1
    whammo77 is offline Junior Member
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    Question Amendment made a mess of Trust. What to do?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Oklahoma

    Ok, my mother died 2 weeks ago. I found out 4 days ago that I am the trustee of the trust. My dad had written my sister out of his will because she and her husband had stolen in excess of $100k from my dad & mom (this is stated within the trust documents). However, my dad passed many years ago, and my mother took the will, and eventually turned it into a trust, with the exact same language contained in it (that my sister was to receive NOTHING). My sister found the trust documents, and badgered my mother until my mom finally gave in and had an amendment to the trust made which made her a beneficiary. This is where the problem starts.....

    The amendment specifically changes (by replacement) 3 paragraphs within the trust documents, and nothing else. So the original text that wrote my sister OUT of the trust still remains (it was not changed or replaced by the amendment). Therefore the amendment and the original trust documents are in conflict. There are also numerous other paragraphs within the original trust that conflict with the amendment (again, these are paragraphs which were not replaced or changed by the amendment). There are literally pages upon pages of contradictions that are caused by the amendment, and it also causes many holes in what is supposed to be done. ie: one beneficiary is to be paid XXXX amount by the trust per the original documentation. That paragraph still remains, however, the source the money was to come from is now being given to my sister per the amendment. Therefore, I have a beneficiary named, and amount I am supposed to give them per the documents, but no longer have a means to do it because of the amendment.

    In another instance, per the original documents, I am supposed to create a trust within the trust for a beneficiary and deposit XXXX amount in it, then set it up to where they get quarterly payments until such time as that amount is used up. This is a paragraph which was not deleted or changed by amendment. Again tho, the beneficiary is named and I have all of the details of what I am to do, but the funds come from that same exact source that has been allocated to my sister per the amendment. Stuff like this happens several times within the trust because of the amendment.

    The amendment makes a complete mess of the trust. It was not handled properly. It's almost as though my mother did it on purpose so I would have recourse, when the time came, to carry out her and my father's original wishes.

    The original trust is extremely detailed (over 47 pages in all) with numerous redundancies. My dad feared my sister would find the will/trust after he died, and would coerce my mother into making changes. So he went above and beyond in building redundancies into the will/trust (thankfully) and went out of his way to make it confusing to the average joe (such as my sister) in hopes they wouldn't be smart enough to understand it and therefore wouldn't have it changed or deleted. It was his hopes that she wouldn't catch all the verbage if she coerced my mom into making changes, and luckily, she didn't.

    One of the powers he left me as the trustee was the right to exercise good judgment in interpreting the trust, and that whatever decision I am to make thereto is binding and not contestable. My decisions about trust matters are to be final and binding, and no one is allowed to take legal action against me or the trust, less they lose any and all benefits and be left with only ONE dollar. (The language is much more extensive than that, but that's the jist of it).

    So my biggest question is, since the amendment makes such a mess of the trust, and since I know my mother was coerced into making the change, is there any way to have it stricken? Or can I simply over rule it "using my best judgement in interpreting the trust", since I believe it would be in the best interest of the original intentions and wishes of my parents, not to mention the fact the amendment makes a total mess of the trust?

    Thanks in advance
  2. #2
    OHRoadwarrior is offline Senior Member
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    As court appointed trustee, I would seek court approval to exclude the amendment as contrary to the original intent of the trust, the product of undue influence on mom, in her declining years and unenforceable due to the numerous conflicts with the original trust documents, if it were me.
  3. #3
    whammo77 is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you for the advice.

    The change IS completely contrary to the original trust, so that might just work. My parents went so far as to describe in the trust what all my sister had stolen, how much it was all worth, and to declare that what she had taken was to be her inheritance and that she was to get nothing else. They didn't mince words I can guarantee! It's cut and dry and so very clear that my parents wanted to leave her NOTHING. Had she never have found the trust papers, I am thoroughly convinced my mother would have never made any changes to it. Moreover, because the amendment was SO sloppy and made such a mess, I really think my mom did that so I could have it reversed. She and my dad were both sticklers when it came to details. So I am certain there is no way that she wasn't aware of the contradictions and problems the amendment created. I am even more convinced of that since the amendment does NOT delete the section that says my sister is to get NOTHING. The devil is in the details.....

    Funny part is, my sister and her husband gathered us kids together to discuss the trust, and distributed us the paperwork to look at. I quickly noticed that the trust paper she gave me WAS NOT signed. So I was like, "where is the signed copy?" "Oh, I've never seen that" was her reply. After a couple of days, I questioned her again about it and she still acted like she knew nothing. So I told her "You have the signed amendment, which was with the signed original of the trust. If you have one, you have to have both. And since I cannot do ANYTHING without the signed copy, you are going to have to find it if you want to get paid!". It magically appeared the next day. As soon as I opened it I realized it was strikingly different from what they had tried to pass by me as being the "original". As it turns out, the unsigned copy was the original rough draft which didn't include all the details. No wonder they didn't want me to get my hands on the real one!!! Oh, and all the while they were badgering me to give over the trustee position to her************** HA! I know better!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I could tell by how adamant they were about me handing over the trustee position that they were up to SOMETHING. I'm glad I insisted.....

    I am quite convinced if they could have gotten the trustee position, they would have screwed every beneficiary in the trust out of everything.
  4. #4
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    I would suggest you get a professional involved before you do anything.
  5. #5
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    Retain an attorney with experience in trust litigation.
  6. #6
    OHRoadwarrior is offline Senior Member
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    As just suggested, it appears their deceit is still actively afoot. Though expensive, a trust attorney appears to be necessary.
  7. #7
    whammo77 is offline Junior Member
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    I agree on the attorney. The trust provides that if an attorney is needed, that the trust will pay for it...... and the money is there so I will do that. Otherwise, the other beneficiaries will get screwed and my sister the snake will end up smelling like a rose. It will mean all of the beneficiaries getting less than they would have, but that is still far better than them getting nothing at all.

    I am curious, if this has to be heard by a judge, will my sister be required to be present? I would hope not. I would hope the judge would just review the documents and make a decision. She is such a snake, and knows how and when to turn on the fake tears and act like a little tortured angel. Ugh.....
  8. #8
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    Retain the attorney first before worrying about what might or might not happen.

    (If it comes down to court proceedings, you can bet that your sister will be there. It is her interest in the trust that will be at stake. This will be expensive.)
  9. #9
    whammo77 is offline Junior Member
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    Yeah, I don't figure it will be cheap, but I have close to $30k in cash funds available right now via the trust, so that isn't a problem and we can definitely do that.

    I just hate a freakin crook... especially one that steals from their own family.....
  10. #10
    BigMouthWino is offline Member
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    Right so you think your best option is to spend all of the trust's money on attorneys fees.... that is far better than working out a suitable resolution with the person you call a "crook," right? Yeah, right.
  11. #11
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    I agree with OP. Seems like sister got her share of the inheritance long before either parent actually died and if it costs a little money to carry out mom and dad's wishes, so be it.
  12. #12
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmst12 View Post
    ... if it costs a little money to carry out mom and dad's wishes, so be it.
    I don't know what you define as "a little money," but, if neither side flinches, I can see this enriching several attorneys.
  13. #13
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    Possible, and I don't have any idea how much money in the trust is in dispute or how much the legal fees could end up costing. There is a cost-benefit analysis in there somewhere, but an attorney could run those numbers as well. But if sister really already appropriated $100k of parents' money, I can't really blame OP for not wanting to give her any more.
  14. #14
    BigMouthWino is offline Member
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    Oh that's brilliant ecmst, have an attorney run the cost-benefit analysis of whether or not all of the trust's funds should be used to litigate to preserve mom and dad's wishes.

    I can save OP the trouble and cost: the attorney will advise you to litigate.

    If you want a true cost/benefit analysis see someone with no skin in the game such as a CPA who will give you a measure of accurate advice.

    The OP states that the trust has $30k in cash funds. If you decide to move forward in court, consider that money and many of the trust's other assets, if any, to be history. And yes, if you are accusing your sister of financial impropriety she will have the right to appear in court and defend herself. It is highly likely depending on her past relationship to the trust that the trust will be required to pay the expenses of independent counsel to represent her interests in the case.
  15. #15
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    A good attorney will not advise someone to litigate when it is not in their best interests. And the trust would not have to pay for the sister's legal fees, only its own.

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