My mother and uncle are co-trustees of my grandparents family trust. My grandfather passed 5 years ago and my grandmother is not on hospice care and unable to care for herself. When the trust was created in 1996, my grandfather advised my mother and uncle to read the trust and informed them of the location of the trust (his office). My uncle has informed the family that he is the trustee and is taking control, he is refusing to allow my mother access to the trust document (locked the office and informed her that he is the only one with a key), additionally he has stated that the trust was amended in 2008, a few months prior to my grandfathers death, removing her as a trustee. Is there any way to compel my uncle to provide my mother access to the trust? California
4 Answers from Attorneys
Your mother is entitled to see the trust. It may require a case be filed in probate Court to enforce.
Mr Selik is correct. Obtain yourself /mother a trust/probate litigation counsel to file a petition in probate court to have the uncle co trustee produce the trust and the supposed amendment naming him as trustee, compel an accounting, produce documentatation as to the required statutory notices to the beneficiaries' right to receive a copy of the trust with amendments, and possibly have him removed as a trustee, and a fiduciary appointed to manage the trust provisions.
I must respectfully disagree slightly with prior counsel.
Your mother's legal right to see a copy of the trust depends on whether she is a current beneficiary of the trust, and whether she is indeed a trustee. It may be that your mother will become a current beneficiary upon the passing of your grandmother, but must wait until that time.
In my experience working with trustees and beneficiaries, there is often a way to resolve these problems short of going to court. For instance, you may be able to ask your grandmother about the trust, if she is still competent. You may also be able to obtain information from the lawyer who drafted the trust. It may be that an appropriate letter from a lawyer to your uncle will induce him to provide a copy of the trust or the amendment to your mother. Your mother may wish to become the conservator of your grandmother's estate, if she believes there has been any mismanagement of assets. There may be other solutions.
Best of luck to you.
Mr. Perry is correct that these matters are often resolved without going to court. Mr. Perry is also correct that if your grandmother is competent she can resolve the situation. However, if your grandmother is incompetent, then - as Mr. Perry suggests - your mother can file to a conservator and, as Messrs. Wald and Selik suggest - your mother can file a petition in Probate Court to force your Uncle to provide a copy of the trust instrument. So, it's best to start off acting in a polite fashion. You can always act nasty later on if necessary.