Since trusts are not part of the public records, the only persons entitled to copies of a trust instrument are beneficiaries. A beneficiary could make a request that the trustee provide a third party with a copy, but the trustee does not necessarily have to comply. The trustee has the discretion to decide who gets a copy and under what circumstances.
By law, the trustee is supposed to notify each beneficiary of their interest in the trust after the decedent passes away. If you are a beneficiary and have not received a copy of the trust, there may be legitimate reasons why the trustee failed to send you a copy such as not having your current address or contact information. So if you are a beneficiary and you want to review a trust which was established for your benefit, you can write or call the trustee and make a request. If you believe that you are an heir to a trust, but you are not sure if you have been included as a beneficiary under the trust, you could still make a request, but the trustee may not give you a copy without a court order. There is also the possibility of obtaining a copy of a trust from another beneficiary by asking that person to provide you with a copy.
Since the trustee must legally provide all beneficiaries with a copy of the trust instrument, if the trustee fails to do so, the beneficiary has legal recourse to file an action with the Nassau County or Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court to obtain a court order compelling the trustee to provide a copy of the trust to the beneficiary. Typically in such a situation, the beneficiary will hire a Long Island trust attorney to assist with filing the complaint and representing the beneficiary in Court.
A beneficiary or other interested party can also contest the validity of the trust by making a claim that the trust is invalid. In order to do so, the person making the claim must have sufficient grounds. Grounds that the Court would consider sufficient include duress, fraud, coercion, undue influence, forgery, the decedent was mentally incompetent at the time of making the trust, the trust did not follow the legal formalities required under New York law. The Court will hear testimony and review any relevant documents in making its determination.
Long Island Estate Attorney
Long Island estate matters concerning trusts and wills can be quite complex. If you are a party to trust or will and wish to receive a copy of the documents, or you need to make a claim against the estate, it is recommended that you hire a competent and knowledgeable Long Island estate attorney to assist you.
If you wish to speak to a Long Island estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (516) 777-0647.