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Questions to Ask About the Trust and the Trustee

Posted by Neil Garfield | June 12, 2018

In the final analysis you are looking for evidence of absence of any real events currently presumed as facts in any foreclosure case.

The trustee issue is a jurisdictional issue. If the Plaintiff Trust does not exist, then it has no standing to make or pursue any claims. If the named Trustee is not engaged in the active management of active trust affairs on behalf of the beneficiaries of a trust, then it is not a trustee imbued with the powers to administer assets that have not been conveyed and entrusted to the Trustee.

If the named beneficiaries have received a promise from the named “Trust” and the beneficiaries have expressly disclaimed any interest in the “underlying” loans, notes, mortgages or debts, then they are not beneficiaries and the entity is not a trust. (That fact pattern describes individual contracts with each investor who purchased a promise to pay executed by someone allegedly on behalf of an entity self proclaimed as a trust. If the named entity does not exist then the party who executed the instruments may have liability for the promise).

Since the Trust has not been identified as having been organized and existing under the laws of any jurisdiction, it is entirely appropriate to ask questions about the existence of the trust and its right to do business in the state or the courts. The second jurisdictional issue is subject matter jurisdiction in which the question is whether the trust owns the indebtedness. I frequently deal with these issues in drafting the substance of documents to be filed with the court, subject to opinion of local counsel.

If prior demands for discovery are clear the appropriate strategy is to force the issue through a motion to compel. Filing an “amended” request fro discovery probably starts the clock all over again. By the time you get to a demand for sanctions for contempt the case could be over. If it is denied she should consider an interlocutory appeal on the issue of whether the record contains assertions or evidence of the existence of the trust. The only prejudice that could exist would be that the trust doesn’t exist and that “they” (actually the lawyers) would be “prejudiced” because they couldn’t foreclose using the trust name.

There is no doubt in my mind that one or both narratives are true: (1) the trust doesn’t exist and never did and (2) the loan (i.e., the indebtedness) was never purchased by the trust, acting through tis alleged trustee.

One of the problems here is that it would be wise, although not essential, to notice the named Trustee for deposition duces tecum. That’s often a problem because most homeowners not appear to have anyone competent to conduct the deposition. In a normal deposition, one MUST ask the witness identifying questions like:

  1. What’s your name?
  2. Who do you work for?
  3. What is the relationship between your bank and this trust?
  4. Besides the alleged Prospectus and the alleged PSA, what agreements exist wherein the Trustee bank is obligated to do or receive anything from the trust, directly or indirectly. [This one should be broken up into parts].
  5. Under what jurisdiction was the trust organized?
  6. Under what jurisdiction is the trust now existing?
  7. Who is the trust officer for the trust?
  8. In which department(s) are trust matters generally handled in the Trustee Bank?
  9. In which department(s) are trust matters usually handled in the Trustee Bank for this trust?
  10. Has the Trustee bank published any memos or guidelines concerning the administration of securitization trusts?
  11. Assuming that the word “loan” means the indebtedness of the homeowners here in this case, on what date did US Bank as trustee purchase this loan to hold in trust?
  12. Who was the seller of the debt in that transaction?
  13. Was payment for the loan performed through a financial account held in the name of the Trustee for the alleged trust?
  14. How did US Bank as Trustee for the alleged trust perform due diligence to confirm the existence and ownership of the debt?
  15. Who are the beneficiaries of the alleged trust?
  16. Who is the trustor or settlor of the alleged trust?
  17. What is the date and name of the instrument that purports to create the trust?
  18. Describe the current functions of US Bank as trustee of the alleged trust.
  19. Describe the current assets of the alleged trust.
  20. Describe date and content of the last financial report received by US Bank as trustee for the alleged trust.

Most likely opposing counsel will object to the question’s relevancy at the time deposition is taken. But relevancy is not even a question at deposition which is by nature a fishing expedition. Even if opposing counsel was right that the question does not directly relate to proof of a fact asserted at trial, you are still entitled to inquire because it might lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

 

 

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