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A beneficiary to a trust is not without rights

Most trusts created in Louisiana are done so as an estate planning tool to transfer property upon the passing of the settlor, the person who created the trust. Typically, the estate is settled reasonably quickly and the trustee distributes the assets to the beneficiaries without incident. In some circumstances, however, there may be a reason the estate remains open and the trustee is charged with administering the assets for the benefit of beneficiaries throughout a period of time. If problems arise with a trustee, a beneficiary may have grounds to object.

Issues regarding trust administration often come up when beneficiaries are to receive their distributions in the future, typically triggered by their age. Estate planning experts point out that although the trustee has powers to protect the estate and administer it according to the settlor's wishes, the beneficiary has rights too. One fundamental right is to be provided with a copy of the trust.

Many disputes regarding how a trust is administered can be worked out with a clear understanding of the trust terms. It should not necessarily be assumed as true that the trustee is correct in interpreting the document. A formal meeting between the trustee and the concerned beneficiaries to address the matter is the recommended course of action. If the trustee refuses to meet or the meeting proves fruitless, it may be time to consider consulting legal counsel.

One of the primary benefits of creating a trust is to minimize to the extent possible the court's involvement in settling the estate. However, it may be necessary to consult an estate planning lawyer to make sure that the rights and responsibilities of all the parties are protected.

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