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Mother accused of blowing twin heirs' inheritance

When Florida residents set up a family trust, they are hoping to make financial matters easier for the next generations. However, the work doesn't end as soon as the paperwork is drawn up. Part of trust administration is making sure the trust stays healthy so that it can do what it's supposed to do for the beneficiaries.

Recently, a trust fund set up for the benefit of the teenage twin heirs of a famous philanthropist's fortune has been the source of an ugly court battle. The twins' mother has been ordered to court to answer questions about how she is spending money she withdrew from the trust. The banks that administer the trust fund accuse her of withdrawing funds from the $60 million trust and spending them on herself.

The mother reportedly withdrew $1 million from the trust over the past several years and deposited it in her own bank accounts. The banks say she was able to withdraw the money on an emergency basis, but now want her to provide receipts showing how she spent the money. She accuses the banks of fiduciary misconduct.

No one wants to spend the time, money and energy it takes to set up a trust, only to see it lead to fights over money in the future. Trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries of the trust. When someone is abusing the trust, it could lead to the depletion of funds meant for another purpose. They must take these disputes seriously.

Florida families who are considering setting up trusts should get help researching their options. A well-constructed trust requires thought, careful planning and expert trust administration for many years to come.

Source: New York Post, "Mom of twin Duke fortune heirs ordered to court after allegedly blowing $1M of their inheritance," Julia Marsh, May 8, 2013

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