You have just received a phone call that a loved one has passed away and you are named as a beneficiary of that loved one’s trust. Cases in Ohio have produced various rights of trust beneficiaries over the years. However, on January 1, 2007, Ohio passed legislation called the Ohio Trust Code which gives trust beneficiaries more certain and specific rights. Below are a number of rights given to trust beneficiaries in the state of Ohio by the Ohio Trust Code. However, before reviewing those specific rights, it is important to understand what it means to be a beneficiary and a trustee of a trust.
A trust is a legal document similar to a will whereby an individual establishes the trust (called the donor or settlor) and gives assets to an individual called a trustee for the benefit of an individual referred to as a beneficiary. A beneficiary is defined as someone who has an interest in a trust whereby that person can receive income and/or principal of the trust. The beneficiary’s interest may be held in trust for some certain period, until the beneficiary reaches a certain age, or indefinitely until the beneficiary’s death. A trustee is an individual or corporation that holds the trust assets and administers the trust assets for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. Under Ohio law, the trustee has certain responsibilities and the beneficiary has certain rights. Some of those responsibilities and rights respectively under the Ohio Trust Code are as follows:
1. Within 60 days after accepting the position of trustee, the trustee must notify the beneficiary about the trust and the trustee’s name, address, and telephone number;
2. If the trust is irrevocable, the trustee must also notify the beneficiary within 60 days after the creation of the trust regarding who created the trust, and tell the beneficiary that he or she has a right to request a copy of the trust and the right to a trustee’s report;
3. The trustee must inform the beneficiary of his or her rights as it relates to obtaining information about the trust;
4. If the beneficiary requests a copy of the trust, unless he or she requests a copy of the entire trust, the trustee can redact certain portions of the trust that do not relate to that specific beneficiary. If the trust has various amendments and/or restatements, the beneficiary can request a copy of the current trust and all of the previous amendments and restatements;
5. The trustee must notify the beneficiary if there is any change in the amount of the trustee’s compensation;
6. The trustee must annually send a trustee’s report to the beneficiary. This report must also be sent to the beneficiary when the trust terminates. The trustee’s report is a statement of trust assets, liabilities, receipts, and disbursements. The beneficiary has the right to waive that trustee’s report if they desire.
If you are a beneficiary of a trust, please contact your local estate planning attorney if you have any questions regarding your responsibilities as a trustee or your rights as a trust beneficiary.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.