A Trust is a Private Document until Death or Incapacity

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Trust Attorney

Often times parents want to set up a living trust to provide for their adult children. The parents also want a child(ren) to be named as co-successor trustees but they do not want the kids to get control of their assets before they are gone. The parents also don’t want to share their private financial information with the kids before death. If the parents set up a trust now, do the kids have any rights to this information?

The answer is no. While you’re alive and competent, your successor trustee(s) don’t control your assets. They don’t even have a right to see your document. Obviously, once you are incapacitated or pass on, that changes. They will then step in to manage the trust assets.

Sometimes I question parents about why they are concerned with their children knowing about their finances and the contents of their living trust or Last Will. The parents must consider their children to be responsible, since they’ve named them as successor trustee(s). Sometimes (notice I said “sometimes”) it is a good idea to give them at least a general overview of the trust provisions and assets so that they can be somewhat prepared when the time comes, and not be totally blindsided.

On the other hand, if there is a real basis for a parents’ reservation, perhaps the children should not be in charge of administering the trust and parents should name other successor trustees. I suggest all parents give this more thought. To me, it sounds less like a legal issue and more one of family dynamics.

To discuss your NJ Trust matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.