Is it legal for a trustee to send my share of beneficiary money to a lawyer who did not represent me?

UPDATED: Nov 20, 2011

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Is it legal for a trustee to send my share of beneficiary money to a lawyer who did not represent me?

My aunt created a trust almost 40 years ago for which she was the trustee. The only thing in the trust was my mom’s home where my 4 siblings and I grew up. Then 2 years ago my mom passed away at which time my aunt, as trustee, decided to sell the property and the proceeds would be divided amongst the 5 beneficiaries. Since my siblings decided they didn’t want the house sold they brought a lawsuit against her last year to remove her as trustee. At that point my aunt contacted her attorney and since she lives with me and I am her power of attorney, I went with her each time she had an appointment and I made calls to her attorney as well in her stead. Then 4 months ago my aunt voluntarily resigned as trustee and an independent attorney was assigned. At this point the new trustee sold the house. When he did so he sent my share of the proceeds to my aunt’s attorney who then took $2500 out of my money to cover his costs for representing my aunt. I would like to know how legal this is, since I personally was never represented by my aunt’s attorney?

Asked on November 20, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Massachusetts


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you never had a written fee agreement with your aunt's attorney nor did that attorney ever represent you, then the attorney who represented the trust that you had an interest in had no legal right to send your aunt's attorney money that was a portion of your share of the trust.

The one exception would be if there was a court order allowing such. I suggest that the way to resolve this situation is first speak with your aunt's attorney as to why he or she received any money that should have been yours. After that conversation, contact the trust's attorney about his reasons for the payment.

If the explanations do not make sense, perhaps you contact your state's bar association about the situation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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