My mother lives in a house that is in a trust and was formerly a trustee of that trust. She kept hard copies of all her communications with other trustees (before and after her time as trustee) and various copies of trust documents in her office. A beneficiary of the trust recently revealed that they went into her office and took all communications/documents and have been keeping them at their house.
I am another beneficiary and I told them they couldn’t just go into someone else’s house and take their private communications without their permission and/or the trustee’s permission. I also asked that they return all the documents (without retaining copies) to the current trustees immediately. They claim they did nothing wrong because the communications/documents relate to the trust, that they have a right to have all these communications/documents, and they did not agree to return the documents.
Are they legally allowed to do this? I am not so concerned with the contents of these communications/documents as I am with this beneficiary feeling they can do/take whatever they want.
ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:
No, the beneficiary is not allowed to break into a person’s private office and steal items.
Query if the beneficiary is entitled to copies of the documents? It depends on what rights the trust has bestowed upon its beneficiaries. A standard clause is the right to an account. A beneficiary is entitled to notice that he is a beneficiary and the provisions pertaining to him. You should notify your mother and the Trustees and let them take the appropriate action.
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.
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