Can Beneficiary of Irrevocable Trust Ask for Trust Accounting?

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Attorney Thomas B. Burton is joined by Attorney Matthew Underwood, of Underwood Legal, LLC, and together they answer a question by a reader about whether the beneficiary of an irrevocable trust in Wisconsin can ask for an accounting of a trust checking account when the reader suspects that the trustee may be using funds for the trustee's own personal enrichment.

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Transcript of Video: Can a Beneficiary of an

Irrevocable Trust ask for a Trust Accounting?

Okay, welcome back today

I'm joined once again by attorney

Matthew Underwood from Madison Matt, thanks

for joining us thanks for having me today.

Tom and today's topic deals with trust accounting

so we're coming to you live from the set of

The Office here and it's only a shame we couldn't

get Angela or Oscar to join us for this question,

but instead we're going to have to handle

it ourselves Matt.

Yeah, we'll do the best we can without having

the Dunder Mifflin accounting team exactly

well we'll try to handle this one but just

accounting is a tricky area so strap in and

here's the question the writer asks it comes

from Bay City Wisconsin and the writer asks

the following as one of the beneficiaries

of an irrevocable trust, can I ask for an

accounting of the trust checking account?

I believe the trustee is using money from

the trust for personal enrichment, for example,

new kitchen cupboards.

I would like to see the transactions of the

checking account.

Yeah this is a this is a really good question

and it in in my practice and probably in your

yours Tom this is an issue that comes up all

the time and I think when we have beneficiaries

that it feel like they're being left out or

that they beneficiary feel like they're not

being told everything that's going on.

I think this is exactly what happens where

there's now there's some mistrust that starts

to build and now beneficiaries aren't even

sure if the trustee is doing the right thing,

so the good thing is that the law did contemplate

this and this isn't a new situation.

I mean, there's court cases going back decades

probably hundreds of years about these very

sorts of things so under Wisconsin law beneficiaries

can actually ask for information from the

trustee and that wouldn't include an accounting

of that checking account or any sort of bank

accounts that might be in the trust so under

Wisconsin law trustees have a duty to keep

the beneficiaries reasonably informed about

the administration of the trust and at least.

Annually that trustee needs to send a report

of the trust property and that includes receipts

and disbursements and also a list of trust

assets and their values so I think this this

question gets right to it where yes the trustee

not only has a duty to carry out those trust

instructions, but the trustee needs to be

providing information to those beneficiaries,

so if it if it turns out, you know, a lot

of times beneficiaries will ask for information

and the trustees won't provide anything that

that's a reason to get your

Attorney involved and force that trustee

to turn over some of those records that you're

looking for and verify that the trustee is

doing the right thing.

And if it turns out that you review the information

and you find out trustee was stealing from

the trust buying, you know things that benefit

them and not the beneficiaries.

That's a breach of that trustee's duty, and

I think that's a reason to actually look into

removing that trustee and having another trustee

come on board who's not going to be doing

some of those things.

So if you if you do feel like you're not receiving

information or if you feel like you have some

information but you're starting to see them

some things that are wrong reach out to your

attorney and you know, start working with

that trustee and make sure things are being

done, right.

And again, this is one of those areas where

you don't want to let it go too long, so if

you know if a trust has been open for two

years and for two years you had suspicions

that things weren't going right?

It's sometimes harder to go back in fix those

mistakes or those things that went wrong so