How can you find out if you are listed on a trust: if you are unsure, the answer lies with the trust holder.
By Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Q: My 91-year old mother lives with my sister. She took my mother to a lawyer without my knowledge in 2019. I unexpectedly found out that two quit claim property deeds were transferred into a trust, for which my sister is apparently the trustee.
My sister will not tell me if I have been included in the trust. Is there any way to find out what is going on?
A: Did your mother ask your sister to take her to an estate attorney?
So, your mother has the right to dispose of her property and assets in any way she chooses. You don’t have the right to manage her affairs or even know about her financial affairs unless she tells you.
How can you find out if you are listed on a trust?
Your sister lives with your mother and apparently has been her primary caregiver for some time. Your mother set up the trust to ensure the easy transfer of ownership of her assets to the trust’s beneficiary or beneficiaries. You and your sister may be among those beneficiaries listed. Other beneficiaries might include, a charity, nieces and nephews, or even friends.
It’s clear from your question, that you don’t have a good relationship with your mother or sister. Reading between the lines, you seem much more interested in the financial aspects of how it affects you rather than your mother’s wellbeing. We suggest you’d ask your mother or sister about her plans. If they decide not to tell you, that’s up to them.
There could be extenuating circumstances
Are you concerned about elder abuse? If so, this is the only circumstance in which you’d have the right to know about her financial affairs is if you believe your mother isn’t mentally competent to manage her affairs. In other words, your sister has forced your mother to give her control over her assets and cash.
If that’s the case, then you may want to talk to an attorney who specializes in elder abuse or financial abuse cases and explore your options. But if your mother is simply trying to get her affairs in order, she has every right to do that. It could also exclude you from inheriting, if she so desires.
Defer to the owner of the trust
This may be hard to hear. People typically don’t just disinherit their children out of the blue. If you’ve been out of your mother’s and sister’s lives for the past few years, it’s understandable that your sister wouldn’t want to disclose information. Perhaps your mother asked her to keep it confidential.
It sounds like there’s a lot you haven’t shared, and plenty of emotional baggage to go around. If you can separate your interest in your mother’s estate from your relationship with her, you should try to repair the relationships first. Then, perhaps the estate issues will work themselves out.
©2021 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin