Trust Beneficiary Rights in Ohio – 3 questions by 3 potential clients

During the course of the last three months I have received three inquiries from potential clients all concerned about the same thing:

What right do I have as a beneficiary of a [Ohio] trust?

Usually I find the potential client just wants to see a copy of “their” trust but their Trustee is being difficult… This is easily cured. Other times, the issue gets a little more thorny but the answer to the question is simple – Its the relationships involved that complicate things.

The definition of “Beneficiary” is found in Ohio Revised Code Section 5801.01(C):

“Beneficiary” means a person that has a present or future beneficial interest in a trust, whether vested or contingent, or that, in a capacity other than that of trustee, holds a power of appointment over trust property, or a charitable organization that is expressly designated in the terms of the trust to receive distributions. “Beneficiary” does not include any charitable organization that is not expressly designated in the terms of the trust to receive distributions, but to whom the trustee may in its discretion make distributions.

If you want to see a copy of the trust in which Aunt Gladdis left you some money (whether you’re supposed to get that money now or later) your Trustee has a duty to furnish you with a copy if you ask for one. Specifically R.C. § 5808.13(B)(1) says:

Upon the request of a beneficiary, [the Trustee must] promptly furnish to the beneficiary a copy of the trust instrument[.]

But Trustees have many other reporting duties to their beneficiaries – you first need to know if you are a “Beneficiary.”

The three potential clients that called all had relatively simple questions that could have been answered by this post. If your issue is more complicated, custom advice from an attorney who is familiar with beneficiary rights should be contacted.

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