When individuals do not fully understand how certain matters work, it can be easy for others to take advantage of them. For example, many Texas residents do not fully understand the ins and outs of the probate process or what power executors and trustees have. In some cases, people in these positions may try to act unscrupulously, and beneficiaries may find that they need to move forward with probate litigation to address issues.
One way that a trustee could act in a dishonest manner is to tell beneficiaries that he or she has the right to change the terms of the trust. Typically, the trustmaker will create specific terms, and the successor trustee, who commonly takes over after the trustmaker’s passing, must adhere to those terms. If the trustee does not, he or she has breached the fiduciary duty.
If beneficiaries believe that a trustee is not acting appropriately, they may need to obtain copies of the trust documents and determine what authority the trustee truly has. First discussing the matter with the trustee could clear up any confusion about the powers he or she has, but there is also the possibility that the trustee will not cooperate. If so, the matter may need to go to court.
Beneficiaries have rights when it comes to receiving their designated share of the estate, and trustees cannot simply do whatever they please or give themselves more. If Texas residents believe that a trustee is not acting appropriately, they may want to discuss the matter with knowledgeable attorneys. Obtaining legal counsel could help parties determine whether they may need to move forward with probate litigation.