Can a trustee withhold an inheritance?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can a trustee withhold an inheritance?

My aunt passed away and her daughter, my cousin, is mad at me. Can she withhold or put the inheritance into an account that I can’t touch or does she need to give me the inheritance so that I can put in an account that is right for me?

Asked on August 6, 2019 under Estate Planning, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A trustee does not get to decide for herself what to do with the money or assets: she is obligated by law to follow the terms or instructions of the trust or will, and also has a "fiduciary duty" to act in the beneficiary's interest and to be loyal to the beneficiary. If she does not do thia--does not give you the money to which you are entitled, you could bring a kind of legal action against her traditionally called an action "for an accounting" to ask the court to make her "account for" her actions. The court can order her to do what she is aupposed to do.

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