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In an irrevocable trust is the trustee authorized to use trust funds for legal fees or defense fees associated with operating that trust?

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July 25, 2007 9:22PM

Typically, the answer is yes. The final answer in each case, however, is dependent upon (a) what the terms of the trust agreement provide, and(b) the applicable state law. In addition, the amount of compensation paid from the trust for legal services sometimes is limited by state law or the terms of the trust to "reasonable compensation", which also is a term of art that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A reasonable attorney fee charged in New York City may not be reasonable if charged in El Paso. Finally, a trustee who is found to have violated its fiduciary duties may be required in some instances to reimburse the trust for legal fees paid from the trust in defense of such violation.