Your legal rights as a trust beneficiary

Know your trust beneficiary rights

A trust is a legal document that transfers a person’s assets to their designated beneficiaries when they pass away. Although the process may seem straightforward, if you’ve been named as a beneficiary in a trust, it’s important to know your trust beneficiary rights and to ensure the trust is distributed properly. 

Unfortunately, distributing trusts can often become complicated and contentious, especially if there are multiple parties involved. It happens so often that it’s a well-known cliché — families fighting over money, property, and other assets after a loved one passes away. Dealing with a death in the family is already an emotionally difficult and stressful time, so if you’ve been named as a beneficiary in a trust, it’s important to have a good estate planning attorney on your side.

Beneficiaries and the distribution of a trust 

If you’ve been named as the beneficiary of a trust, there are several ways the assets can be distributed to you:

  • Outright – Assets are given in full to the beneficiaries, and generally there are no restrictions 
  • Staggered – Staggered distribution is often used when particular dates are involved. For example, if someone is receiving an asset when they turn 21, or after they graduate from college. 
  • Discretionary – Discretionary distribution puts the Trustee in charge. The Trustee is a person nominated to manage the trust and administer the assets. 

Your legal trust beneficiary rights

It’s often incorrectly believed that the Trustee holds all the power. But if you’ve been named as a beneficiary, it’s important to know your rights in the trust distribution process:

  • Right to information
  • Right to payment
  • Right to an accountant
  • Right to remove the Trustee
  • Right to appoint a new Trustee
  • Right to end the trust 

Even if the trust seems simple and straightforward, we recommend working with an experienced NJ estate planning lawyer who will ensure your beneficiary rights aren’t being violated, and who can ensure the distribution process goes as smoothly as possible. You can’t be expected to deal with all of the legal intricacies of a trust, while also grieving the death of a loved one. Let your estate planning attorney shoulder some of the burden.

For more information about your rights as the beneficiary of a trust, or if you have any questions about the terms of the trust, please contact our estate planning lawyers at SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people in NJ call us to fully understand their trust beneficiary rights. 

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