Q: I am the trustee on my grandparents living trust. Who are their beneficiaries?
I am listed as the trustee after my mom who is deceased. My grandparents trust only lists their children, my mom (deceased) and my aunt. I can find nothing on the trust that lists a 'beneficiary'. I am assuming that my aunt is a beneficiary and is entitled to half the value of the trust, but what about my mom? Since she is deceased, does her amount pass to her children (trust doesn't seem to be clear on that, although it is very wordy and I am having a bit of a hard time following it)?
A: I'm sorry to hear about your mom's passing. I recommend that you have an attorney review the estate planning documents to help you understand the content. Due to COVID, it may be best to scan the documents so that they can be emailed to an attorney for review. It is also a good idea to have an attorney supervise the administration of the trust which will give you much-needed peace of mind.
Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer
Unfortunately, there is no way an attorney could tell you who your grandparents chose to be beneficiaries without reading your grandparents' trust. Otherwise, we would be guessing to whom they wanted to leave her assets.
I know there is a lot of legalese in trusts, but it is there for a reason. Some words have been defined certain ways going all the way back to England, before the United States was a country. So, if a word has one meaning for 200+ years and a lawyer today uses a different word, the law would assume the lawyer meant something different than the centuries' old definition. So, we use the same words to ensure judges, etc. know exactly what is meant. If you are unfamiliar with legalese, you should hire a lawyer to read your trust and advise you.
Please know that, as trustee, you have important legal duties, including giving certain notices in writing (containing language that is required by law.) You can be sued if you violate the duties and/or spend your grandparents' money on things that are not allowed. So, when the time comes, hire a lawyer to help you do it correctly. All the best to you!
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