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  1. #1
    Karen L. Archer Guest

    Unhappy Brother is refusing to discharge his duty as trustee-unless I relinquish my interest

    I reside in Oregon. I am the oldest of four children. My mother died June 1, 2001, in Sacramento, California. She had been living with my brother for approx. 4 years at the time of her death from Alzheimers. My brother is the trustee of the estate (there was a trust set up several years ago). I am a beneficiary of the trust. My brother has refused to provide me with a copy of the will or the trust, saying that it is all confidential, and that he will not give me any information or release anything to me or my siblings unless I agree to relinquish, in writing, all interest in the estate. He has refused to answer any questions about what happened to the assets that were listed in the trust. In fact, he will not respond to any phone calls, or mail inquiries that I have sent him, other than to email me the demand that I relinquish interest. I researched the statutes, and found that his fiduciary duty, as trustee, is to provide me with a copy of the trust and will within 60 days of her death. What is my next step? Can he be compelled to do what the law requires? The statues indicate that the trust becomes irrevocable 1 year from the date of death. Where do I go from here?
  2. #2
    ALawyer is offline Senior Member
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    Your brother likely feels that as he took care of her, not he deserves everything. Fortunately for you that is NOT what the trust says.

    Your brother is acting outrageously and in serious breach of his duties and could be compelled to act in accordance with the law and trust, or removed as a trustee for his gross abuse.

    As for where you should go, I suggest that you contact an estates lawyer in Sacramento (if that's where he is).
    This is intended as general information only, NOT legal advice. You are not my client and I have no obligation of any kind to you. To retain a lawyer I suggest you go to www.AttorneyPages.com.
  3. #3
    Karen L. Archer Guest
    I already contacted an attorney. He agreed to represent me for a $5000.00 retainer and 33 1/3 contingency fee. I had already informed this attorney that, in all likelyhood, there is no money/property coming to me, so that fee (which he told me is a "greatly reduced fee" is impossible for me to pay! My brother did contact me once after Mom's death. He told me there were no assets left, that Mom died broke. He refuses to tell me what happened to her home, other properties she owned, invesment accounts, whether she had life insurance, etc. (All of those were listed in the trust 5 years ago, when I saw it, AND I was the trustee of record. Apparently, my brother had everything changed, but did not inform me). My mother had Alzheimer's, so things could have been done with my brother having POA, and she was not aware, or did not remember. I am trying to find out what steps I can take on my own (court filings etc.) to force my brother to at least show me a copy of the will and trust, a disposition of the trust assets, and explain what happened to my mother (he noted in his one and only letter to me that Mom was involved in lawsuits and legal problems subsequent to the death of her husband in 1995, but my brother says he "didn't want to burden" me with all of that. ) There ARE some artifacts that were in my brother's home at the time of my mother's death that he is holding hostage......these are souveneirs from when we lived in Saudi Arabia. My brother was born after we returned, when my mother, widowed in 1956 when my father died, re-married. My brother is a result of that union. The point being that it has always been the understanding that those artifacts go to myself, my sister, and oldest brother. My brother, Mark, is holding all of that hostage, saying that none of us will get any of that unless I relinquish my interest in the estate. I have downloaded a copy of the statues from California that are related to estate law. And I was informed that it is legal for me to take this to court without an attorney. (Yes, I do know the old adage!). I need to know what the next step should be....what do I file to compel my brother to comply with the law?
  4. #4
    ALawyer is offline Senior Member
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    Wills are not self effectuating. If there were any assets in the estate, the Will should have been filed for probate, and be a matter of public record in the probate court in Sacramento if Mom lived there. But he may not have filed it on the basis of no need as no assets. But why not go down to Sacramento and check yourself? You can also get the files on the old lawsuits.

    While there I would contact several other attorneys and see if they might offer less costly terms, or, for a modest fee, at least start things off with a lawyers letter to brother demanding that he comply. The McGeorge School of Law is also in Sacramento, and UC Davis Law School is nearby, and perhaps someone there may be able to help as part of a protect.

    If your brother responds -- and is he far more likely to respond to an attorney that a civilian -- you've gotten some of what you want. Or at least a basis for dialogue. (Brother may open up, informally.)

    If brother does not respond, ask the court clerk for help. You'd reallly have to file seeking an accounting and the specifics of such a proceeding are way beyond what I give as a public service by way of free advice....

    I will share this. Litigation is VERY expensive, and if you are in Oregon and he's in Sacramento, he has geographical advantage. If he had a lawyer that lawyer could make you spend weeks travelling back and forth as he horses around with you.
    This is intended as general information only, NOT legal advice. You are not my client and I have no obligation of any kind to you. To retain a lawyer I suggest you go to www.AttorneyPages.com.
  5. #5
    Karen L. Archer Guest
    Thank you for your suggestions. My mother had all her assets entered into a revocable trust several years ago.(I WAS able to verify this with the attorney who set up the trust). Would the same situation apply, that nothing would have to be filed if there were no assets? Doesn't my brother have to provide me, as a listed beneficiary, with a copy of the will (or at least divulge the contents of it), a copy of the trust, and an accounting of the trust assets (or disposition thereof)? I did spend a great deal of time in Sacramento, researching sales of property, etc, possible legal actions against my mother, etc. Am I correct in understanding that I can go to the court clerk in Sacramento county to get help with filing the necessary documents? My brother is counting on the expense of a lengthy court battle to deter me from pursuing this. However, my interest now is in simply compelling him to give me the information the law says I am entitled to receive, as a beneficiary of the trust. Am I being naive to think that this can be done by me? I have a copy of the statutes related to administration of the trust. It seems pretty clear. Is this a muddy hole that is deeper than it appears? Thank you for the suggestion of the McGeorge School of Law. That sounds like a good resource as well. I will exhaust all avenues that I can pursue on my own, as I don't have the money to hire counsel. And my brother knows this. He is the who has not been employed for 11 years, but still managed to buy a large home in the last 4 years, owns a 2001 Ford truck, and can't/won't account for any of my mother's assets for which he was the trustee. Hummmm. Thanks for your help and direction.

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