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I have a trust fund that's designed so the trustee heavily controls my access to the finances. I have to give him a bunch of documentation to get money. It's my understanding most trusts just let you ask for money.

My parents were abusive through out my entire life, and they set this trust up as a last screw you to me. Is it possible if I can prove abuse that the trust can be amended?

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    – feetwet
    Commented Apr 1 at 22:53

2 Answers 2

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A trust where the trustee controls the flow of money on behalf of the beneficiary is known as a "spendthrift trust" and is quite common form of testamentary trust in the US. Typically, it's used in cases where:

  • The beneficiary is unable to control their own spending (hence the name "spendthrift"), and the grantor wants to ensure they have long-term support for essentials.
  • The beneficiary is a minor or has developmental disabilities.
  • The beneficiary has other special needs, and is eligible for needs-based government assistance. Because the money in the spendthrift trust isn't theirs, it doesn't hurt their eligibility as a direct gift would.
  • The grantor wants to use the assets in the trust as an incentive to get the beneficiary to do something, like finish college.
  • The grantor wants to protect the assets in the trust from being "attached" if the beneficiary is sued for some other reason.

In general, the mere existence of a spendthrift trust wouldn't be considered abusive or against public policy. It is the right of the deceased to decide whether to attach conditions to the distribution of their estate.

Courts are very reluctant to modify a trust unless a) its terms are ambiguous in some way, or b) the trustee's behavior is clearly not in line with the terms. In theory, if there was clear evidence that the intent of the trust was abusive (such as a discussion between the grantors to that effect), the trust could be revoked as a matter of public policy. But, the threshold of such proof would be difficult to meet.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Law Meta, or in Law Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – feetwet
    Commented Apr 1 at 22:54
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My parents were abusive through out my entire life, and they set this trust up as a last screw you to me. Is it possible if I can prove abuse that the trust can be amended?

Generally not. The fact that a trustee is controlling is not itself abuse, and the parents didn't have to leave anything to their child at all.

I have a trust fund that's designed so the trustee heavily controls my access to the finances. I have to give him a bunch of documentation to get money. It's my understanding most trusts just let you ask for money.

This isn't really true. Some trusts in some circumstances ask for a bunch of documentation, and some make a fixed distribution each year, but few just let you ask for money.

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  • There were years of other stuff. If I can prove abuse from the other means, might I be able to lessen the restrictions on accessing trust assets? They made it difficult to access since we cut contact on bad terms with each other.
    – ZeroPhase
    Commented Apr 9 at 1:59
  • @ZeroPhase No. You might conceivably be able to replace the trustee on the grounds of a breakdown of communications with the trustee, if this is true (not a sure thing by any means) it isn't clear if the breakdown of communications if with the parents or with the trustee or both. But that is the most you could hope for. Your claims of abuse are absolutely irrelevant even if proven beyond any doubt.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 9 at 2:29
  • What I'm really worried about is the trust growing rather large, and my budget still being restricted based on my yearly expenses. (I have influence over asset allocation) I would prefer to over time move money out and manage it myself to minimize the management fee collected by the bank. If I do extremely well with outside investments of this trust it will be drained rather quickly to pay taxes, making my gripes a moot point. How I understand the trust so far, if I grew it to $1 billion I'd still only be allowed to spend $100k to $200k per year based on my spending habits.
    – ZeroPhase
    Commented Apr 9 at 2:49
  • @ZeroPhase So what? You have something, you could have had nothing. This isn't a legitimate argument for reforming or terminating a trust. Usually trusts are only terminated prematurely for being too small to be worth the administrative cost. "If I do extremely well with outside investments of this trust it will be drained rather quickly to pay taxes" Taxes don't work like that.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 9 at 2:58
  • So basically, if the trust grows rather large there's no means of renegotiating the terms? My only option would be someone representing my parents' estate agreeing I can gain greater leniency with accessing the funds? I only mention the taxes making everything moot, since if a penny stock does well I could realistically owe hundreds of thousand to millions in taxes requiring the trust to be liquidated in the process. Ironically, with the spendthrift clause I believe I have to inflate my lifestyle expenses to gain access to any significant growth. Should I hire a lawyer to figure out loopholes?
    – ZeroPhase
    Commented Apr 9 at 3:46

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