Rights of the Beneficiary of an Irrevocable Family Trust

By Kate Anders
Beneficiaries of trusts have certain rights that need to be enforced.
signing a contract image by William Berry from Fotolia.com

As the name implies, beneficiaries are those that benefit from a trust. Usually two types exist: income and remainder beneficiaries. Income beneficiaries receive the current income such as dividends earned on investments. Remainder beneficiaries receive assets after a preset time or after the death of the income beneficiary. Although slight variations can occur according to the governing document, most all beneficiaries of irrevocable trusts have a few common rights.

Right to Receive Income

If listed as an income beneficiary, you are required to receive such income. The trustee cannot withhold the income. Also, trustees have an obligation to treat beneficiaries fairly and impartially; therefore, the income beneficiary should not receive all the benefits while a remainder beneficiary receives nothing.

Right to Information

All beneficiaries have the right to information such as accountings and trust administration reports. An accounting records the financial information, such as assets, liabilities, and compensation. An administration report is similar, and also includes records of the trustee's actions. These documents should include all the inner workings of administrative matters.

Right to the Document

A beneficiary is entitled to a complete copy of the governing document. This also includes any amendments and court orders, as well as the original document.

Right to Replace Trustee

If the trustee performs in any way that is against his fiduciary duty, the beneficiary can petition the court to replace him. If this is the case, the court can also hold the trustee liable for damages the beneficiaries suffered.

About the Author

Kate Anders worked on Campbell University's yearbook for five years and was editor-in-chief for four of those years. She will complete both a B.A. and an M.B.A. at Campbell University in May 2010.