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  1. #1
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    Sep 2007
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    Default Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    My question involves estate proceedings in the state of: Indiana

    Hi all, again. To refresh memories, my father passed in February due to a house fire that he started by smoking. I am the trustee and executor of his trust/estate. The trust has been established and I have control of the accounts which consist of a checking and savings. The house is currently being restored and will be sold when completed. I have taken his car to my residence in SC and am trying to sell it. All proceeds will be put into savings and distributed between myself and my two siblings.
    Here is my dilemma. The attorney's that set up the trust and will have not been responding to calls or e-mails. I have had some minor questions that I needed to ask. I thought that we had this worked out when it first happened some time ago but apparently not. Do I even need them anymore? Since I now have control, can I just phone them, ask for a bill for services, and tell them their services are no longer needed? I really don't wish to deal with them anymore. If they can't answer me then what good are they?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    18,155

    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    Quote Quoting Michael56
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    I am the trustee and executor of his trust/estate. The trust has been established and I have control of the accounts which consist of a checking and savings. The house is currently being restored and will be sold when completed. I have taken his car to my residence in SC and am trying to sell it. All proceeds will be put into savings and distributed between myself and my two siblings.
    Here is my dilemma. The attorney's that set up the trust and will have not been responding to calls or e-mails.
    The attorney that set up the trust for your father charged a fee to do it and likely got paid by your father while your father was still alive.

    He has no obligation to respond to your calls or emails for free but I can't imagine why you can't call his office and make an appointment for a consultation and bring your checkbook so you can pay him for it.

    Quote Quoting Michael56
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    I have had some minor questions that I needed to ask. I thought that we had this worked out when it first happened some time ago but apparently not. Do I even need them anymore?
    Seems to me that if you have questions to ask an attorney then it logically follows that you "need" an attorney and, therefore, will have to pay one to get the questions answered.

    However, you might get your questions answered by perusing the Indiana Trust Code:

    http://law.justia.com/codes/indiana/2012/title30/

    Quote Quoting Michael56
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    can I just phone them, ask for a bill for services, and tell them their services are no longer needed?
    I suggest a letter to the attorney advising him that his services are no longer required. I'd leave it at that. If you ask for a bill, he'd probably bill you for reading the letter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    South Carolina
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    I realize that the attorney needs to be paid for what he does. I fully expected to do that. I was under the impression that they were there if I needed guidance. That's what they told me. Since I am in SC and they are in IN I can't just call and schedule an appointment. I was trying to rely on e-mail or telephone. But they don't seem to want to do that. So, how do I get the information? I can hire an attorney here in South Carolina but they most likely won't be able to help me since the trust was done in Indiana.
    According to the laws governing trusts in Indiana I can hire attorneys. I don't see anything specifically dealing with firing attorneys but I assume that if I can hire them I can also fire them. I guess I will do as you suggest and compose a letter to them. I will have to consult the Indiana trust laws for further information as to what I can and can not do. I am already aware of that but my questions dealt with things not specifically covered in those laws. Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    Quote Quoting Michael56
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    I realize that the attorney needs to be paid for what he does. I fully expected to do that. I was under the impression that they were there if I needed guidance. That's what they told me.
    How many times have you contacted this lawyer over what period of time, and have you paid the lawyer anything to date for his services? Did you actually retain this lawyer to provide services, in your capacity as trustee?
    Quote Quoting Michael56
    Since I am in SC and they are in IN I can't just call and schedule an appointment.
    Why not? You can schedule a phone conference.
    Quote Quoting Michael56
    So, how do I get the information? I can hire an attorney here in South Carolina but they most likely won't be able to help me since the trust was done in Indiana.
    Or you can hire a different lawyer in Indiana, who is more willing to work by phone and email.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    I have been dealing with this practice since my father died in February. They drew up his will and created the trust. I have met with them in the office several times to get the trust opened and established with me as trustee. Since then, I have phoned several times but never actually did speak to one of the attorneys. I was told they would get back to me but never did. I have e-mailed four or five times and actually only got a response once, and that was just a confirmation that he received my message. I have not paid them anything. No bill has ever been provided. There has been no mention of payment. I had assumed that they would send a bill periodically or ask for payment when it came time for the trust to be closed.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    Post your specific trust questions here.

    There may be contributors here who might have some experience and could either answer your questions or direct you to a source of information.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    Okay, thanks. My first question concerns my brother, who is sort of estranged from the rest of the remaining family. He lives in Georgia, my sister lives in Ohio. The household goods not destroyed in the fire are in Indiana. Am I responsible, as the trustee, to see to it that they receive their items at time of distribution? In other words, must I ship it to them, deliver it to them, or do they have the responsibility to make those arrangements?
    My second question is this. There are certain things my father wrote down to give to my brother. However, he also stated that they were to remain in the family. I realize that I have no say so in what he does with most of what he gets. But how can I make sure that he is aware that he is not to dispose of these certain things? Just telling him won't do it. He does what he wants. I thought about making him sign something in order to get these things but he would refuse and threaten to seek legal aid.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    Quote Quoting Michael56
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    Okay, thanks. My first question concerns my brother, who is sort of estranged from the rest of the remaining family. He lives in Georgia, my sister lives in Ohio. The household goods not destroyed in the fire are in Indiana. Am I responsible, as the trustee, to see to it that they receive their items at time of distribution? In other words, must I ship it to them, deliver it to them, or do they have the responsibility to make those arrangements?
    I doubt if the trust statutes drill down to anything that specific.

    And if the trust documents don't specify the method of distribution, you'll have to wing it.

    You certainly have the option of sending your siblings an itemized list of what was left to them and insisting that they come get it or pay for shipping.

    But then you are left with the question of what if they do neither and just procrastinate or one does and one doesn't. Then you are stuck with storing the items indefinitely and delaying the completion of the distribution while you argue this with your siblings.

    Another option is to quietly just have everything packed up and shipped and use the estate's money to pay for it.

    Keep in mind that you'll be shipping to yourself as well so the shipping costs will come out of everybody's share.

    Also keep in mind that when you start giving family members options, everything boggs down. You have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate, not in the best interests of your siblings.

    If it was me, I would act on the side of moving the estate toward conclusion.

    Quote Quoting Michael56
    View Post
    There are certain things my father wrote down to give to my brother. However, he also stated that they were to remain in the family. I realize that I have no say so in what he does with most of what he gets. But how can I make sure that he is aware that he is not to dispose of these certain things? Just telling him won't do it. He does what he wants. I thought about making him sign something in order to get these things but he would refuse and threaten to seek legal aid.
    That one's easy to answer. Your father's wishes that everything remain in the family are unenforceable and it's completely up to the distributee what he or she does with it. Once the distributees get their stuff they can put it on Craigslist the next day and sell it all if they want to.

    Frankly, I wouldn't hassle with it. Even if the conditions were specified in the trust what do you do five years from now if your brother sold the family heirloom? Sue him? From across the country? Spend thousands on a lawyer? Best you can do is express your father's wishes in writing when you distribute the items and let it go at that.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    My sister is easy. No, not in that way. Don't tell her I said that. She has no problem with going to get whatever she is to get, or selects. My brother, on the other hand, wants everyone to cater to him. I can't see asking my sister to do that and not expect him to comply as well. But he didn't bother to go up and see Dad in all the years that he could have. Why would I expect him to go up and get his stuff? You are correct, I do have a fiduciary duty to the trust/estate. I will do what is necessary, what is in the best interest of the estate.
    As far as the second question, I figured that would be the case. I already knew that I guess. I just didn't want to believe it. Maybe expressing those wishes in writing at that time will make an impression on him and he won't get rid of it. Thanks for the help!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Attorney for Trust is Not Responding to the Trustee

    (If you do ship items to beneficiaries in your capacity as trustee, be sure to fully insure the shipments.)

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