What is a Trustee’s duty to distribute estate property?

UPDATED: Oct 9, 2013

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What is a Trustee’s duty to distribute estate property?

My husband’s mother passed away about a year ago. She had a living Trust with all 5 children as beneficiaries. The oldest child is the trustee. There is only one investment account that needs to be distributed; all other assests have been distributed. It has now been 11 months and the trustee is refusing the distribute the one large investment account until the end of this year. She will not give any of the beneficiaries information on the account as well. My understanding is the living trust should have been fully distributed within 5 to 6 months. What can we do to move this along or what other options do we have?

Asked on October 9, 2013 under Estate Planning, California


Nathan Wagner / Law Office of Nathan Wagner

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You could petition a court for an order forcing the trustee to distribute the assets, but that may not be very helpful here. The trustee says they will distribute in about 3 months. It will probably take that long to get an order from the court. Furthermore, the trustee can probably use the trust assets to defend herself from that lawsuit.

There may be good reasons for refusing to distribute until the new year (although it is strange that the trustee will not give information about the account). Many investiment accounts impose penalties if funds are withdrawn early. The trustee may just be trying to preserve trust assets by avoiding paying a penalty. 

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