Have You Been Named a Beneficiary in a Trust?

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Beneficiaries of trusts, less so than of wills, are not always legally required to be notified. Learn what to do if you have been named the beneficiary of a trust from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

The way you find out if you've been named as a beneficiary in a trust is less certain than to find out if you've been named a beneficiary of a will. Some states, just like wills require that beneficiaries of trusts be notified--be sent some sort of notice, typically by certified mail, sometimes by personal service from a process server. Somehow they're supposed to get notice that they're a beneficiary into this trust. My understanding is the vast majority of states do not require a notice to beneficiaries of trusts. In Texas where I practice, no notice is required to beneficiaries. Although beneficiaries have certain rights, but you have to know you're beneficiary in order to be able to exercise those rights. And it has happened that the trustee is not the most honest person, takes the money, never notifies anybody, and so you may never know if you're a beneficiary of the trust. And maybe that's a downside of a trust, because with a will, in most cases, you're going to be required to give notice. But the law on trusts has not kept up with the law on wills. And so because the law on wills is ahead of the law on trusts, and trusts are dragging behind, most states again still don't require you to be notified. If you're a beneficiary into a trust, you need to be alert, you need to ask questions, you need to find out who the successor trustee is, and ask them to get a copy of the trust. They may give it to you, they may not give it to you, and they may not have to give it to you. Then you'll need to go see a lawyer.

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