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TOPIC: How living trusts are implemented after death...

How living trusts are implemented after death... 4 years 7 months ago #1

  • Marcy
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My husband and I got married in 1996. I was an ER nurse, he was disabled. He was on my health insurance and got 807 in social security disability. He is also a vietnam vet. In 2007, I became disabled with an autoimmune disease. We lost our house, and fortunately had an RV we could move into. I got into an accident and totalled our truck, so we had no way to move the RV. We were in a state park at the time and you can only stay there for 30 days. The park ranger said he was going to have to tow our RV if we couldn't. I borrowed 10,000 dollars from my parents for a used truck to pull it so we didn't end up completely homeless. This debt is about half paid off. In March of 2009, my dad died, and in Sept of 2009, my mom died. They had a living trust. We have moved into a mobile home that needs alot of fixing, after we moved into it, we found out the propane pipes had several leaks, our heat is propane, and it is now shut off until we can fix that, also water pipe leaks, roof leaks, hole in the floor that we found after taking up one of the few tiles remaining on the floor, etc.
My question is this: My brother is the executer, or trustee, or whatever you call it, but I haven't heard anything about what it says. My husband and I really need to know where we are regarding the truck...How do we find out?
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Re:How living trusts are implemented after death... 4 years 7 months ago #2

  • Michael P. Pancheri
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You haven't indicated whether you have a good relationship with your brother. If you do, you should just ask him for a copy of your parents' wills and/or trust instruments. Even if you don't, you'd be much further ahead if you try to communicate with him and establish a working, cooperative relationship.

If a good relationship is out of the question, then you certainly have the right to get the information from your brother. Under California law (I'm assuming that your parents lived in California), you have the right to get a copy of both their wills and any trust instruments they might have had. In addition, your brother (as trustee) would have to give you a listing of all assets in the trust and (at a minimum) the provisions of the trust instrument that pertain to your interests under the trust.

I did find a fairly good article entitled "A Summary of Trustee Responsibilities, Beneficiary Rights, and Elder Law (California)," by David W. Tate, CPA, Esq., which you should read because much of the information in this article pertains to your situation. Here's a particularly apt quote from this article:
The general rule is that the trustee is required to keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed about the trust and its administration. You can refer to Probate Code §16060.

However, there are important exceptions.

Upon reasonable request by a beneficiary, the trustee must provide the beneficiary
with a report of the information relating to the assets, liabilities, receipts, and
disbursements of the trust, the acts of the trustee, and the particular terms of the trust that are relevant to the beneficiary's interest. You can refer to Probate Code §16061.

Probate Code §16062 requires the trustee to provide an accounting at least
annually, at termination of the trust, and upon a change of trustee to each beneficiary to whom current distribution of income or principal is authorized. However, the accounting or information might not be required if waived by the terms of the trust or the beneficiary, or the trust in question is revocable. You can refer to Probate Code §16064.
Here's a link to California Probate Code Section 16060 - 16064 in case you want to read up on this yourself.

Bottom line is that all the information you need is available to you. Your brother probably is the one person who can give you the information you need. You can also go to the probate court where your parents lived and ask to see any file that may have been opened for your parents' estates. The trust itself may not be there, but copies of their wills and other assets not in the trust would be.

Finally, you really should speak with a trust and estate lawyer because you may be assuming facts that really don't exist. For example, you haven't indicated that the loan from your parents was in writing and that it will be enforced by your brother or anyone else. Perhaps no one is even aware of the loan; or, perhaps, your parents forgave any remaining indebtedness under their wills; or, perhaps, they left sufficient assets to you that might offset any remaining debt on the trust. The point is, you shouldn't assume the worst. Instead, get the information you need and then you'll be able to make the right decisions.

But, really, get as much information as you can on your own, then, if you're not satisfied, talk with a local attorney.

And, if you have further questions, please don't hesitate to post again.
Last Edit: 4 years 2 months ago by Michael P. Pancheri.
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