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Information Download: Trust Accounting vs. Trust Information; Which is Better?

How long should you wait for a Trust accounting? After the Trust creators (also called “Settlors”) pass away, beneficiaries can expect to wait between six months to one year for an accounting from the Trustee. The time frame depends on the nature of the assets and the terms of the Trust. A Trust accounting is a formal document which lists the Trust income and expenditures using a specific format.

Trust beneficiaries need not wait for a full Trust accounting, however, to ascertain the value of the Trust assets. Beneficiaries can request financial information from the Trustee such as bank statements, brokerage statements, and rent statements. Beneficiaries are entitled to financial information pertaining to the Trust, and the Trustee must give beneficiaries any requested financial documentation within a reasonable amount of time. Trustees must be transparent and give full disclosure to the beneficiaries.

Trust beneficiaries can ask for financial documentation as soon as they become entitled to their share(s). If the Trustee provides the requested information, the beneficiaries can keep track of the income, investments, and spending on their own even before they receive a full Trust accounting. Beneficiaries can later demand a formal accounting by filing a petition in probate court if the Trustee refuses to provide information.

The bottom line: get information early and often. Don’t wait for an accounting to start seeing what is happening with your Trust. Many Trustees will either refuse or delay accountings, but that’s only half the battle. Trust financial information should be easy to copy and provide to beneficiaries and it will allow you to see what is happening way before a formal accounting is prepared. Information counts: GO GET IT!