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I need help with property interest in a Trust.

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Latest post Sat, Feb 4 2017 12:21 PM by Kivi. 1 replies.
  • Sat, Feb 4 2017 8:53 AM

    I need help with property interest in a Trust.

    My uncle, who is now deceased, was one of 20 people who were left a fractional interest in various properties in the succession of his Aunt. All 20 people got together and put their interest into a trust back in the 1960s and appointed a trustee. Before my uncle died, he formed his own trust (of which I am the trustee) and put the various properties he owned into the trust including his fractional interest held in the 1960s trust. His description of the fractional interest he owned was ambiguous. It stated "property and mineral rights known to my family", and this trust was recorded in the county he died, not in the county where the fractional interest property is located. 

    The trustee of the 1960's trust disolved the trust in 2015 and distributed all of the interest to the other 19 interest owners. My Uncles interest appears to have been divided into the other 19. 

    My question is, did the trustee have the right to distribute my uncle's interest amongst the other 19 beneficiaries? I did not see anywhere in the document creating the trust where this power was given to the trustee.

    And, if that trustee is not willing to file a correction to the document dissolving the trust to include my Uncle's interest, what steps can I take to protect and stake a claim to that interest? I am in the process of recording a copy of my Uncle's trust in the proper county. But what other proactive steps can I take?

    If the rest of the family is hostile and does not want to recognize my uncle's interest and this goes before a judge, do I have a leg to stand on?

    Thank you!


  • Sat, Feb 4 2017 12:21 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Jan 1 2005
    • CA
    • Posts 6,363

    Re: I need help with property interest in a Trust.

    You are going to need to consult a probate law attorney to see if you have any legal recourse against the trustee who made this distribution. I would consult one who does litigation versus one who does estate planning. I don't know if that vague descriptiion if "good enough" or not. This one tends to be very state specific.

    If you wish to pursue this one, you probably will have to file some kind of law suit against the trustee. What you may need to ask yourself is whether the costs of litigation (which could easily be thousands of dollars), will outweigh your late uncle's actual financial interest in this property and whether your legal fees and costs could be recovered in any law suit, if successful.

    Also, merely winning a law suit is only the first step. You also get the joy of collecting on your judgment, if you get one in your favor. If the trustee is a "deadbeat" collection could be difficult. 

    It is the trustee's problem to get back the money from the other 19 folks involved, if it comes to that. 

    If you late Uncle's financial interest is, for example, only $500 or even $5000, I would forget about it. If i was $500,000, then you obviously have something that might be worth pursuing at least to the point of getting a legal consultation.



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