What Can I Do if the Trustee Won’t Give me a Copy of the Trust?

Every now and then we encounter situations where a trustee refuses to provide a copy of the trust to the beneficiaries. This leaves the beneficiaries uneasy, as the trustee carries on the affairs of the estate while the beneficiaries are left in the dark. Fortunately, the California Probate Code has specific requirements to address this situation.

When a person with a living trust passes away, or the trust becomes irrevocable upon its own terms (as when the person who created the trust is deemed incapacitated) California Probate Code § 16061.7 requires the trustee to give notice to all beneficiaries and heirs within 60 days following the date of death.

If the trustee fails or refuses to comply with the request, then the beneficiary may file a petition with the probate court to compel the trustee to provide a true and complete copy of the trust. The probate court also has the discretion to order the trustee to pay for the beneficiary’s attorney’s fees incurred to secure a copy of the trust. As you can see, a trustee’s refusal to provide a copy of the trust can be quite expensive.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you make a written request to the trustee as soon as possible. Be sure that your letter is dated and that you have proof that it was mailed to the trustee (e.g., certified mail). Doing this will start the clock on the trustee’s time to respond. If he or she fails to respond, then you will have the evidence that you need to take the matter before the judge.

At Max Alavi, Attorney at Law, APC we assist clients in trust disputes and estate administration. If you find yourself in need of assistance, please feel free to give us a call at 949-706-1919.

The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the probate process and is not specific legal advice. By viewing this blog, you understand that no attorney client relationship is being formed. If you are dealing with a potential probate matter, it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney.