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Hi, this is Stewart Albertson with Albertson & Davidson.  The question today is do we always have to go to court to get my interest that’s due to me under a trust?

For example, say that you’re the 50% beneficiary of a trust but the trustee refuses to distribute your assets to you.  It’s been three years since your mom or dad passed away and there’s no reason for your sibling, the trustee, to be hanging on to these assets.  They could be spending these assets on themselves.  They’re treating these assets as if their own when you’re the rightful owner of these assets and these assets should be distributed out to you.

I get clients that say, “But can’t we just tell a judge this has to happen?  We don’t have to file anything?  Can we write him a letter?  What can we do to get these assets?”  And, unfortunately, the answer is you do need to go to court.  Especially, in light of a set of facts where you’ve been the beneficiary of a trust for more than three years and your sibling is refusing to make that distribution to you.

We’d like to think we still live in an era where letters work or phone calls work or persuasion works.  It doesn’t for most cases.  I’ve been doing this for a lot of years and I can think of one time in my entire career that a letter worked.

So we generally want to send one letter to just see if that will work.  It almost always isn’t and then you’re going to have to go to court and get a judge to order that trustee/sibling to make your rightful distribution to you.