If you are a beneficiary of a trust you have some legal rights and interest in the property being held by the trust. After all, some, or all, of those assets will eventually be distributed to you. What happens if you become concerned about the way those assets are being managed by the Trustee? What is you simply want more information about how the trust is being administered? These questions can be answered by answering the general question “What rights do beneficiaries of a trust have?”
Over the last several decades trusts have evolved to the point where there is a specialized trust for almost every purpose. All trusts, however, have a few things in common. For example, all trusts must have Trustee who is responsible for managing trust assets and administering the trust terms.
All trusts are divided into two categories – revocable or irrevocable. As the name imply, a revocable trust in one in which the maker of the trust can modify or revoke the trust at any time. An irrevocable trust cannot be modified or revoked once it becomes effective. The rights a beneficiary of a trust will have depends, to a large extent, on whether the trust is a revocable or irrevocable trust.
Because a revocable trust can be changed at any time, the maker of the trust has the ability to remove a beneficiary completely from the trust. This fact tends to diminish the rights a beneficiary has; however, as long as you remain a beneficiary you will have some basic rights. For example, you have the right to regular communications from the Trustee and the right to disbursements under the terms of the trust agreement.
As the beneficiary of an irrevocable trust you will have considerably more rights because you are not at risk for being removed as a beneficiary of the trust. Some of the common rights a trust beneficiary has include:
- Communications – you have a right to regular communication from the Trustee and the right to request information from the Trustee if needed.
- Disbursements – you have the right to disbursements from the trust fund as provided for in the trust terms.
- Accounting – an accounting should be prepared and provided to you at regular intervals – usually every year.
- Remove Trustee – as a beneficiary you have the right to petition a court to remove the Trustee is you believe the Trustee is not doing his/her job properly. Sometimes the power to remove Trustee is even explicitly written in the trust agreement.
- Terminate trust – under certain conditions, even an irrevocable trust can be terminated; however, only a court can formally terminate the trust. As a beneficiary you have the right to petition the court for termination.
Because each trust is unique, it I always best to consult with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney if you have questions regarding your rights as a beneficiary. If you have additional questions or concerns about the rights you have as a beneficiary of a trust, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.