If you are the beneficiary of a Trust and you have gone to the trouble of demanding a Trust accounting, how do you know whether the accounting is accurate? Even though Trustee’s are required to verify (meaning to sign for the truthfulness of the accounting under penalty of perjury) court-filed accountings, it still remains possible that the accounting is reporting inaccurate financial information.
The best way to double check an accounting is to obtain copies of all the financial information on which the accounting is based. For example, if the accounting reports activity that occurred in a specified bank account, then you need to subpoena the bank and obtain a copy of all bank records covered during the accounting period. Once you obtain the bank records, you can check them as against the Trustee’s accounting to determine if the information reported is accurate.
The same is true for things like real estate sales (where you can subpoena the escrow company), brokerage accounts, life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, and on and on. In other words, every number reported in an accounting must be established by independent sources to be sure the accounting is accurate.
What if a Trustee failed to report an asset that you know was part of the Trust estate? That must be discovered as well using either subpoenas or some other form of discovery: such as document requests.
Once you have as much information as you can obtain, and have reviewed the information, it is time to depose the Trustee. During the deposition process you can ask the Trustee about any discrepancies or missing information. The more you have figured out before the deposition, the better your deposition will be.
In many cases, trying to unwind the tangled financial web that many Trustee’s create can be a daunting and time-consuming task. But with focus and persistence you will find the answers. The numbers are out there some where, it’s just a matter of finding the right information.