Arlington, VA asked in Estate Planning for Maryland

Q: On a trust with a ridiculous age of 35. Plus the fact that the trustee refuses to let beneficiaries know information.

The trustee has not fulfilled request to know where and who is second trustee in event of death of trustee. Is there a way to get special hearing to request information or early dispersement? Especially since the value of the assets were ridiculous and the out of state property was never included in maryland estate. Lots of unanswered questions. There were 11 grandchildren and only two have reached inheritance age. Me and my 3 siblings are afraid that the trustee has refused to account for missing items like expensive jewelry. Vehicles and the sale price of Pennsylvania Property. Not to mention the Life Insurance policy. I was a minor at the time of death 2012. Now I’m 22 but my oldest sibling is 29.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: It is not uncommon for a grantor of a trust to make the age of distribution 35 years of age. They may be concerned about the reckless and inexperienced money management of youth or of particular beneficiaries, and want to ensure that their wealth transfer to their beneficiaries will be made after they have progressed in life to some degree, at a more mature age, and without the lazy luxury of money that might deter them from pursuing a college education, a remunerative career or profession, or learning the hard and necessary lessons of earning and building wealth on their own that only time and real experience can teach. Nothing ridiculous about it. You're 22. When you're 35 and older, your persepctive on this choice of your grandmother will be much different that it is now.

The powers, duties, obligations and succession of the trustee are governed by (1) the written terms of the trust; and (2) the Maryland Trust Act. The trust itself will normally have a clear provision for naming a successor trustee, and unless there are circumstances where the provision fails to address the naming of a successor, then the Maryland Trust Act provides the remedy (e.g., by agreed appointment of all beneficiaries, or by a court of competent jurisdiction naming a successor).

Pursuant to the Maryland Trust Act, Estates and Trust Code, Section 14.5-813, beneficiaries are entitled to be provided a complete copy of the trust document from the trustee upon request, as well as an annual accounting--again, upon request--of all trust assets and transactions. Removal of a trustee is possible through court action on the grounds of malfeasance, mismanagement, incompetence or other failure of the trustee to faithfully carry out the trustee's duties. The evidence required for removal cannot be based on mere speculation or conjecture of wrongdoing. The supositions in your post do not amount to actual knowledge of wrongdoing, and reckless accusations of misconduct without actual proof will seriously undermine your credibility should future court action be required. Therefore, you need to ask for the accounting first, and review the transaction history.

Section 14.5-813(a) provides, "Unless unreasonable under the circumstances, a trustee shall promptly respond to the request of a qualified beneficiary for information related to the administration of the trust, including a copy of the trust instrument."

Section 14.5-813(a)(1) provides, "On request by a qualified beneficiary, a trustee shall send to the qualified beneficiary annually and at the termination of the trust a report of the trust property, liabilities, receipts, and disbursements, including the source and amount of the compensation of the trustee, a listing of the trust assets, and, if feasible, the respective market values of the trust assets."

Retain a lawyer to draft a letter requesting the information you seek, so that the letter is comprehensive and specific as to the information you need, and will provide the prerequisite to proceed to court to compel the trustee should they fail or refuse to reasonably comply with the request. Upon receipt of the information requested, the lawyer can review it to determine whether the trustee is or is not acting appropriately, and/or whether more information or an audit by an accounting professional is called for if there are questionable transactions or discrepancies in the trust accounts. There may be nothing amiss, but you will not know without first reviewing the transactions and accounting.

A. Jase Allen agrees with this answer

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