Today’s New York Daily News reports the ultimate trust beneficiary’s nightmare which has befallen none other than 104 year old socialite Brook Astor.  Although she is the beneficiary of a 45 million dollar trust from the estate of her late husband which pays her an estimated 2 million dollars annually, Astor’s 82 year old son Anthony Marshall has evidently refused to apply these massive assets to provide his mother with even the most basic level of support,

According to recently filed court papers, Astor is kept inside a dilapidated duplex on fashionable Park Avenue and deprived of necessary medication, clothing and even doctor visits and health aides such as a hospital-style bed to prevent her from falling. Her grandson Philip Marshall is now seeking to have his father removed as Astor’s guardian, accusing him of  turning "a blind eye to her, intentionally and repeatedly ignoring her health, safety, personal and household needs, while enriching himself with millions of dollars." The younger Marshall goes so far as to claim that his father has instructed Astor’s staff not to take her to an emergency room or even to place a 911 call without first contacting him!

If Brooke Astor can find herself in failing health and a virtual prisoner in her own home, deprived of even the most basic necessaries (not to mention luxury items), then this possibility exists for virtually anybody else. Poor Ms. Astor may have had little opportunity to determine whether or not her son would have been an appropriate guardian but certainly , when we choose a trustee, it is necessary to be quite sure as to how that person is likely to treat our own assets. Remember that when you form an irrevocable trust or nominate a testamentary trustee in your will that that person will have extensive power over the wealth placed at their disposal. It is very difficult to reverse such a choice once the trust commences so this is not something to be taken lightly.