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Does a Qualified Settlement Fund Claimant Have a Right to Access the Trust Document?

Does a Qualified Settlement Fund Claimant Have a Right to Access the Trust Document?

In general, a Claimant (a.k.a. beneficiary) of a Qualified Settlement Fund (QSF) trust has a right to certain details about the QSF, which may include seeing the related trust documents.

Understanding a Claimant’s Rights

Claimants of an QSF (which is an irrevocable statutory trust) generally have the right to see the trust documents. This right arises from the Claimants having a beneficial interest in the trust property and being entitled to information about how the trust is being managed and operated. In most cases, the trustee is responsible for providing the Claimants access to the trust documents.

State Law Matters

The specific rules regarding a QSF Claimant’s right to access trust documents can vary by state law and the terms of the trust agreement. However, the general principles apply in most cases to provide access.

What Documents May a Claimant Request

First, it’s essential to understand what types of trust documents are involved. Generally, trust documents include the trust agreement or instrument, which outlines the terms and conditions of the trust, as well as any amendments or modifications to the trust. Trust documents can also include financial statements, tax returns, and other documents related to the management and operation of the trust.

Second, it’s important to note that QSF Claimants do not automatically have access to trust documents. Instead, they must request access to the documents from the trustee. The trustee may be required to provide the documents or allow the Claimant to review them in person.

In some cases, the trustee is required to provide certain trust documents to Claimants without a request. For example, some states require trustees to provide annual accountings to Claimants, which detail the trust’s income, expenses, and distributions. In other cases, the trustee may have the discretion to withhold certain information from the Claimants, such as information that could compromise the privacy or security of the trust or its Claimants.

Third, depending on the terms of the QSF, the trustee may at some level of duty to provide the Claimants accurate and timely information about the trust’s assets and management. If the trustee fails to provide the information requested, the Claimant may have legal recourse to seek redress.

What Recourse Does a Claimant Have to Compel Access

In some cases, Claimants may need to go to court to enforce their right to access QSF documents if the trustee refuses to provide the documents or if there is a dispute over what documents the Claimant is entitled to see. In such cases, the court shall consider factors such as the nature of the documents, the Claimant’s interest in the trust, and the trustee’s fiduciary duty when determining whether to order the trustee to provide access to the documents.

Case Law Analysis

Many cases and legal precedents have addressed a beneficiary’s (Claimant’s) right to access trust documents. Here are a few examples:

These authorities demonstrate the importance of a beneficiary’s right to access trust (QSF) documents and the trustee’s duty to provide access. They also highlight that the specific rules and requirements regarding access to trust documents can vary depending on the applicable state law and the terms of the trust agreement.


In summary, Claimants of a QSF generally have the right to see the associated documents, but this right can be subject to certain limitations and requirements. If you are a Claimant of a QSF and are unsure about your rights to access the documents, you should consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you understand your legal rights and options.

Disclosure: This paper is an overview. It is not a detailed analysis and offers no legal or tax opinion on which you should solely rely. Always seek the advice of competent legal and tax advisors to review your specific facts and circumstances before making any decisions or relying on the content herein.
About the author Glen Armand: Glen is the founder and non-executive chairman of Eastern Point Trust Company, a non-depositary trust company with clients across the globe. He has almost 50 years of financial industry experience and specializes in Qualified Settlement Funds, trusts, tax, fiduciary subjects, and the trust and financial industry. As a widely respected expert, he is a consultant, frequent presenter to industry groups, and author of numerous articles and technical papers related to Qualified Settlement Funds, trusts, tax, fiduciary subjects, and the trust industry. Mr. Armand serves on several corporate boards and the boards of not-for-profit organizations.

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