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  1. #1
    bvance Guest

    Question Heir vs beneficiary of a Trust

    What is the name of your state? MI

    My husband recently received a letter from a lawyer in Yuma Arizonia advising him that he is an heir to a great Aunts trust. It does not list him as a beneficiary. Is he entitled to a portion of her estate? There is also an adendum that makes this great aunts great grandnephew the new administrator of the trust. This adendum was added a couple of months prior to the aunts death (at age 86). I suspect the trust is quite substancial and would mainly like to know if my husband is entitled to anything. The lawyer that sent the letter was not very helpful and seemed to not want to answer our questions. Please help!
    Last edited by bvance; 10-13-2002 at 09:47 PM.
  2. #2
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    Apr 2002
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    Congratulations to your husband--his great aunt must think very highly of him in order to trust him with such an honorable position as trustee of her trust. There really is no excuse for the lawyer not being more forthcoming about at least the basic details of the trust, such as how much is in there, unless he doesn't know the details himself (which is very unlikely).

    If this attorney is also executor of the estate, he is probably a little bit jealous because he wasn't also named as the trustee, and in fairness to him, it does take a few weeks to examine the trust and work out other details.

    Yes, your husband, as trustee, will be able to get a substantial fee (paid for by the trust and deducted from it)--but that fee rate information is confidential and known only to trust attorneys or the trust department of a bank. He will only be eligible for a portion of the trust and not anything from the estate unless he was named specificially as a beneficiary in the will--the trust and the will are 2 separate matters.

    All he has to do right now is wait for the attorney to contact him later on (probably a few weeks or a few months down the line) with all the relevant details. Your husband has the right to know what bank is holding the trust account and will also be eligible to receive a copy of the original trust documents (if they are not provided automatically, then he has the right to request them by sending a certified letter to the executor). Your husband should ask the attorney what type of trust this is (revocable or irrevocable, etc.)--and then your husband can either visit a library to check out books on the subject of trusts (to get an idea of what will be involved), or he can consider hiring a trust attorney or the trust professional at a local bank to advise him on how to manage the trust, if those services are not already provided at the bank where the trust is being held now.

    When he gets a chance he should also review the great aunt's probate file at the county courthouse just to get an idea of what her wishes were regarding her estate (look at the will), but the trust will contain specific instructions on how the trust monies are to be dispersed.

    DANDY DON (tiekh@yahoo.com)
  3. #3
    bvance Guest
    Thanks for the info but you misunderstood the question. My husband was not named the administrator of the trust he was named an heir. Another Great grandnephew was named administrator as well as one of the beneficiaries. Am I to assume since my husband is an heir only he would not receive anything? And what are his chances of fighting the will since his Aunt had no children?
  4. #4
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    Perhaps I was confused. But anyway, if your husband was named one of the heirs of a trust, then of course he can expect to receive something from it. (However it is odd that he is being called an "heir"--the normal term used is beneficiary). It's just too bad that the attorney didn't give him some estimate of what that amount would be.

    Don't even think of contesting the will until you have at least examined it to see what it says and whether or not there is a penalty clause for anyone who contests. At this point you would seem to have no grounds or reason for contesting. See exactly what the trust says and then take both the will and the trust to a probate attorney or trust attorney for their review and opinion.
  5. #5
    bvance Guest
    Thanks. I'll request a copy of the will. I already have a copy of the trust. There is a clause in the trust which states that if anyone contests the will they will receive nothing. I believe the reason my husband was named an heir is because his father was possibly named in the will but his father has passed away. I will get a copy of the will and take everything to a lawyer. Thanks again.
  6. #6
    curb1 is offline Senior Member
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    Dandy Don,
    I have a problem with your advice:

    "Yes, your husband, as trustee, will be able to get a substantial fee (paid for by the trust and deducted from it)--but that fee rate information is confidential and known only to trust attorneys or the trust department of a bank. He will only be eligible for a portion of the trust and not anything from the estate unless he was named specificially as a beneficiary in the will...."

    It seems as though attorneys think that being named as Trustees of a trust is like striking gold. No matter how little work is done, there is that "confidential" fee that can be charged to basically rip off the heirs. We had that experience in Arizona. No assets other than cash assets for disbursement to heirs and the attorney charged us $26,000.00 to write out the checks and fill out the tax forms. I am familiar with the process and know it wasn't complicated. This was after the attorney set up the Living Trust "to make everything simple". We couldn't believe what he charged. He basically said "tough, that's the way it works". For some reason, only an attorney could explain, he felt very justified to take the maximum that was available even though the amount of work didn't come close the amount charged.
    Question? Is this an aberration from your experience? Many of my friends who are attorneys act like it is just the way it is, they know it is wrong, but love the easy money (and won't turn down the opportunity).

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