Trust beneficiaries have legal rights in Illinois to receive information related to the trust and to receive distributions from it. If you are a trust beneficiary, you may want to know more about your rights to ensure that the trustee is acting appropriately.
Trustee Fiduciary Duties
First, you should know that trustees have legal fiduciary duties to beneficiaries. These duties include:
- The duty of loyalty to trust beneficiaries
- The duty to act impartially, not favoring one beneficiary over another
- The duty to exercise reasonable care, investing assets prudently
- The duty to preserve property held in trust
- The duty to account, keeping records for the trust
- The duty to manage legal claims on behalf of or against the trust
Many of these duties translate into rights that beneficiaries have in relation to the trust. The two main rights that beneficiaries have are the right to information and the right to distributions.
The Right to Information
Beneficiaries have the right to receive certain information about the trust. The trustee needs to provide beneficiaries with an annual accounting describing payments and income of the trust. This requirement is waived only if the trust document says so or if the beneficiary declines to receive the accounting. Even so, the trustee might have to provide an accounting to the court later on.
In addition, the beneficiaries can request a copy of the trust document from the trustee. Trust documents are generally private and not filed with the court. To learn about how the trust works, the beneficiaries need to be able to receive a copy of the document.
The Right to Distributions
Beneficiaries have the right to receive distributions from the trust according to its terms. A trust may require distributions on a regular basis or may leave the distribution schedule up to the trustee’s discretion. If you believe that the trustee is wrongfully withholding distributions from you, you may have recourse in court.
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