In most situations, a beneficiary has the right to see the trust. You can usually get a copy of a trust document by asking the trustee for a copy. If they refuse to provide it, you can start a court proceeding to compel them to let you see the trust.
Unlike wills that are admitted to probate, trusts are not part of public records. To see a trust, the beneficiary would need to contact the trustee by making a written request. Another way is to have another beneficiary get you a copy. If you are unsure if you are a beneficiary to a trust, you can write to the trustee to see whether you are a named beneficiary. A trustee must automatically provide a named beneficiary under a trust with a copy of the trust instrument. However, if you are not a beneficiary, the trustee is under no legal obligation to provide you with a copy.
Some trusts have restrictions against letting a beneficiary see the trust. If this is your situation, the attorney for the trustee will have to show the trust to the judge, so that the judge can verity that the trust prohibits the beneficiary from seeing it.
What happens if the trustee tells the beneficiary they don’t have the right to see the trust?
If the trustee ignores your request and fails to let you see the trust, you can contact a New York City trust attorney to assist you with the matter. An attorney can advise you if you have sufficient grounds to file a petition with the New York City Surrogate’s Court asking the Court to issue an order compelling the trustee to let you see the trust. If it is determined that you do have sufficient grounds, the attorney can prepare the petition and represent you at the hearing, so that you can see the trust.
If you are a beneficiary of the trust, the court will usually order the trustee to allow you to see the trust. In a separate proceeding, the court will order the trustee to account for the trust’s assets. Trustees can be removed for failure to account for the corpus of the trust and for failure to comply with the court order to let the beneficiary see the trust.
Since trust matters are complicated, find a New York City trust attorney who is the most qualified to assist you with finding out whether you are entitled to an inheritance under a trust and the right to see the trust. If you wish to speak to an experienced New York City trust attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.