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What to do when trustees do not cooperate

Some trust beneficiaries in South Carolina may find themselves dealing with trustees who seem to be uncooperative. For example, one person who was left money in a trust by grandparents to be received at certain ages could not get any information about the trust or distributions although the distributions were supposed to be made at certain ages.

In general, beneficiaries are entitled to see a copy of the trust, and this should be the first step if there is an issue. Often, problems around trusts, trustees and beneficiaries come down to misunderstandings. These can sometimes be cleared up once a person sees what is actually written in the trust. If a person reviews a trust and feels that a trustee is not abiding by its instructions, the next step should be to contact the trustee and try to have a calm conversation about the issue.

It might be necessary to contact an attorney if the trustee refuses to discuss it or if the two cannot agree. The attorney might be able to fix the situation with a letter to the trustee or a meeting, but sometimes, legal action may be necessary. This can also be expensive and time-consuming.

Because of the possibility of this type of scenario, it is important that a person is clear in writing the instructions in a trust. The right person or people should also be chosen as trustees. The trustee may need to be able to deal effectively with confrontation and family conflict, but and he or she might also need some financial and legal experience depending on the complexity of the trust. For this reason, people sometimes appoint a professional as a trustee or appoint a professional alongside a family member. An attorney may be able to assist in choosing the right person or people for this role and help create a trust that expresses the creator's intentions clearly.

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