Subpoenas and Legal Action to Produce Documents
Beneficiaries are entitled to receive copies of the Will or Trust under which they are entitled to receive an interest. They are also entitled to information related to their interest, including accounting for any expenditures which may affect their share of the trust or estate.
In cases where a reasonable request for copies of documents – or for an accounting or report – has been made and such request has been denied or ignored, legal action may be needed to compel production of the documents or other requested information.
Obtaining records related to the administration of a trust or estate is often not as difficult as one might think. If a party is justified in his/her demand for information, legal action can be commenced to compel production of the records.
Courts tend to favor full disclosure and are likely to order production of documents and records, particularly if the disclosure is required by law or by the Will or Trust at issue.
In addition, as officers of the court, attorneys have the power to subpoena records from banks or other financial institutions that is related to the administration of a trust or estate. Therefore, even in the absence of a specific court order, it is often possible for financial records to be obtained by an attorney directly from financial institutions.
Finally, if an executor or trustee has wrongfully withheld records or information from a beneficiary, necessitating legal action by a beneficiary to compel production of the records or information, courts are likely to require that the trustee or executor personally pay the reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred by the beneficiary in the legal action.
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