It is not uncommon for people to establish a trust before they pass away to prevent their estate from going through probate. While it is true that trust assets are not controlled by the Arizona Probate Code, and in theory pass directly to trust beneficiaries, problems can arise that keep this process from running smoothly. For instance, just like a personal representative handles the administration of a probate estate under Arizona probate law, a trust administrator handles the administration of a trust. And, if the trust administrator fails to properly fulfill his duties, trust beneficiaries may find themselves waiting for even a year or more before they begin receiving trust assets that perhaps should have passed to them much earlier.
With complicated trusts, it may just be that administration of the trust necessarily takes longer than with simpler trusts. In such a case, the trust beneficiary may just need to be patient. In other cases, however, it may be that the trust administrator is simply not adequately performing his duties. Even though trusts are exempt from probate, trust beneficiaries may be able to rely on the Arizona probate court to compel the trust administrator to act. The probate court can compel trust administrators to provide an accounting of the trust or make a distribution of trust assets, and can even replace the trust administrator with a successor if necessary.
Trust beneficiaries need to understand that even though trusts are designed to avoid probate, trust administrators must take their position seriously. Trust beneficiaries who believe that a trust is being mismanaged should consult with an Arizona probate lawyer about their options. While it may just be that the trust administrator has ran into complications that necessarily delay administration, there is always the possibility that the trust administrator is neglecting to fulfill his duties. In such an instance, an Arizona probate lawyer can help trust beneficiaries petition the Arizona probate court to compel the trust administrator to action.