Grandson Receives Fair Share After Aunts’ Delay
DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients’ cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case.
Recently, our office helped Richard Drake* rightfully recover his share of his late grandmother’s estate. We have seen numerous similar cases, so this is a good example of what can be done when a trustee refuses to properly carry out the terms of the trust.
Richard found our office while looking for information about his legal situation online. His grandmother died over a decade ago, and under the terms of her trust, he was a beneficiary with a right to a one-quarter share of her estate. The estate was made up of a fairly even split between real estate (a primary residence and a rental property) and liquid assets in the form of investment accounts.
Richard’s aunts (his late father’s sisters) were trustees of the trust. We have seen thousands of trusts over the years and many times families get along perfectly well, but there are other times when things don’t go so smoothly, and unfortunately, this was one of those times.
Richard’s aunts delayed distributing a single penny of his quarter share for years. Every time he attempted to get even the most basic information, they put him off.
To add insult to injury, Richard’s aunts now wanted to charge over $100,000 against the trust, stating that they were owed money for various services performed over the years on a completely different trust (one under which Richard was not a beneficiary.) Meanwhile, they had sold a property to a relative for a below-market price.
Finally, in desperation, an internet search led him to our office, where we were able to file a petition for an accounting. This basic legal maneuver was extremely fast. In fact, Richard, who had been waiting for years, was shocked and saddened that he had waited so long to seek help with his case once he saw how simple it was.
Richard’s aunts did provide an accounting once the demand was made, but our office disagreed with their figures, so on Richard’s behalf we filed an objection to the accounting. The case then settled, and very favorably for Richard.
He received his fair share: one quarter of his grandmother’s estate. In addition, the $100,000 the aunts were claiming was chargeable against this trust was dropped, and an adjustment was made to account for the below-market sale of one of the properties.
In short, Richard’s late grandmother’s wishes were carried out as she intended when she wrote the trust before she died. Richard, who waited over a decade to make any waves, was able to settle his case very, very quickly and with a minimum of drama. Not every case is as straightforward as this one, but many are.
* Names and identifying details have been changed for privacy