If my sister is the trustee for my late father’s Trust, can she withhold the funds from me?

UPDATED: May 10, 2013

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If my sister is the trustee for my late father’s Trust, can she withhold the funds from me?

He died and left us each a specific amount of money. My sister does not want to distribute the funds, as they are being used to pay for my mom’s nursing care.

Asked on May 10, 2013 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no general answer to your question, because each trust is governed by its own terms--by the terms, that is, of the documents setting it up. The trustee has whatever power and discretion to make decisions that the trust documents give her; and she must also exercise her power, including making distributions from the trust, in accordance with the terms of the trust. She may not use the trust for anything beyond what the money was authorized for. Therefore, to answer your question, you need to bring a copy of the trust papers to a trusts and estates attorney, who can review it with you and determine what the trustee can and cannot do with the money.


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