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Wills, Trusts and Estates

Numerous banks act as trustees for trusts established many years ago with small banks, some of which have been acquired many times over. The successors are typically very large banks with no personal relationship with the beneficiaries of the affected trusts.

Under the Uniform Trust Code, which has now been enacted into law in a number of states, it has become much easier for the beneficiaries of trusts to change trustees, typically for replacements which are local, smaller and/or which charge lower fees and expenses. Even in those states where it is not as easy for the beneficiaries of trusts to obtain replacements under the new law, many bank trustees have engaged in practices which put their own interests before those of the beneficiaries, which they are legally obligated to do. All trustees have what are known as fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries, the most important of which is the duty of loyalty. Many banks, because of their other business interests, have conflicts of interests (between their own interests and those of the beneficiaries) and, if they put their own interests first, this fact may be used as a basis for obtaining a replacement trustee.

Many banks also control their own "families" of mutual funds. When the assets of trust accounts, estates (when the bank is acting as executor or personal representative) or other types of fiduciary accounts are "invested" in the shares of these captive mutual funds, the banks may be putting their own interests first. Many of these mutual funds are charged fees and expenses (by subsidiaries or affiliates of the banks) that are both excessive and, when taken together with the banks' direct charges for acting as a fiduciary, the total expenses of maintaining the fiduciary accounts are higher than they would be if the banks were to make investments directly.

In addition, some banks "change the rules" unilaterally by charging trust and other fiduciary accounts fees and expenses above those established when the trust/probate or similar relationships are established. Even if the beneficiaries have "consented" to these changes, they may not be binding and may also be a basis for changing fiduciaries.

When problems are encountered by beneficiaries of fiduciary accounts, it is typically difficult to obtain a lawyer to provide objective advice and/or to challenge a bank. For the most part, this is due to the fact that the banks make referrals to the lawyers who draft wills and trust documents and those lawyers are not about to "bite the hand of the one who feeds them." The lawyers, many of whom may have small practices, may well be intimidated by banks or may have no experience with litigation which frequently involves complicated financial issues and/or they may be unwilling to represent clients on a contingent-fee basis, which is the only way to avoid the risk of enormous legal expenses.

If you have encountered issues such as those referred to above, please do not hesitate to contact me without obligation.

Trusts and Estates Articles

Wills, Trusts, and Estates: "We thought we had all the bases covered"
When you're planning and establishing a trust for your estate, look for a trustee who knows the difference between your interests and their own and who will work for you. Large financial institutions such as the Bank of America certainly know that difference, but as Lorene Grant discovered, they also know how to make your trust and estate work for them.

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Posted by

My mother died back in ’96 and I had a trust fund set up for my younger brother, sister and I. My aunt was the head of the trust fund and last year, 2014, when my sister turned 21, whatever was left in the account got split into thirds, and I did not receive anything. I tried to contact the trustee, other family, brother and sister. And I am not getting any responses. I feel that I have been cheated out of money that my mother left to me and would like to know what legel action I need to take. Thanks

Posted by

I am one of five children left to inheiret my Uncles trusts. He was an animator who drew Mr. Clean,Frito Bandido,HamsBear,and The Chipmunks Christmas on T.V. He had no kids,just us.We were told we only got part of trust B and nothing of trust A, which was the realestate, bank accounts, drawings when he worked for Walt Disney in the 40's.

The Attorney took everything and we are left with $30,000.00 each.No attorney will go after another attorney in California.So, you can steal, lie,cheat and nothing will be done to you. How wrong is that?Complete strangers can steal everything your family has worked all their lives for and nothing will be done about it.Spend it while you have it or someone you don't even know will take it from you.

Posted by

my wifes family has been in a lawsuite for more than 3 years fighting over the grandmas wishes. the grandsons filed suite saying that their own grandmother was incomatent. they could not take the truth that she dissowned them, for these reasons. her grandsons where told that they would get the land. then she caught them stealing money out of her account ($6000) but when she cought them they only putback $2000.

these records never made it into court, the judge said that it had no meaning in the case. they were leasing the land for cattle but where also selling the dirt off the land. they conned her into sighning a lease agrement for 90 years or untill both parties agree to stop.

this grandma is 86 years old she will not live for 90 years!!! she realized what she did and told them to get off her property. that was when th filed suit. their lawyer droped them and the grandmother then deeded my wife and her sister half of the land to split.

te grandsons were so greedy the wanted it all!!!! they broke into my tool sheds and stole a bunch of my tools, broke off any and all the water spickets in the ranch, and cut down all the cattle pins. we finaly went to court and had 5 lawyers that she had dealings with for her will and trust. we also had her family doctor and one of her pastors of 15 years testified in courton her behalf.

they only had a doctor that had admited he was paid to testify that she was incompetent. yes i did say he admited he was paid. our lawyer then fainted due to a hart problem that was discovered at the hospital. the judge said the court will continue the next day when our lawyer was released.

we found out later that the judge and the grandsons lawyer are very good friends and he speaks at her confrences and he is paid to be there by her firm. It took the judge 2 months to make a judgment. the next thing we find out is he gave them every thing and gave us nothing. so if you are going into court in Austin Texas watch out for the the trial judge in travis county. thank you for your time.


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