The Oldest Child Syndrome

Mom and Dad had a trust and they chose their oldest child, who lives three hours away, as their successor trustee. When Mom and Dad died, the oldest child took over the bank accounts, brokerage accounts and got in touch with their pension, life insurance and IRA companies. Mom and Dad also had a house, furnishings, a car, jewelry and art work. The trustee used vacation time and weekends to focus on tasks such as working on the house and processing all of the needed paperwork with no help from his siblings. The trustee became resentful from the lack of help and started taking money out of the trust as payment for the work he had done. The payment amounts were high, but the trustee felt that it was fair payment for the time he invested in overseeing the trust. The trustee had short term cash flow problems and he borrowed some money from the trust, but then “forgot” to pay it back.

Four years later, a sibling contacts the trustee about Mom and Dad’s assets. The sibling asked, “Are we going to get a distribution? What is taking so long? By the way, I’d like to see some documentation of what happened to the assets since the date of death.” The trustee refused to share any information. The situation worsened and, finally, headed for litigation. At that point, the trustee found an attorney who told him a court accounting needed to be done. The attorney contacted me for help.

Doing a court accounting for a period of four years or longer can be a challenge, but we can help your clients put together a detailed accounting that will answer questions from the siblings, their attorney and the court. We understand Probate Codes and can get the job done correctly the first time.

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