As Orange County trust administration attorneys, we frequently receive calls from beneficiaries who have just received notice that they have been named in a trust. There are a few things that can be useful to understanding the process if you are a trust beneficiary Here is a guide to help trust beneficiaries through the complex process of trust administration.
Read the entire trust document and all amendments
In California, every trust beneficiary is entitled to a copy of the trust agreement and all of its amendments. If you do not already have a copy, be sure to request one from the trustee. If you are confused by any of the terms of the trust, you can ask questions of the trustee, as well. If you are still unclear, you can contact one of our Orange County trust administration attorneys. We would be glad to clarify any of the terms and explain the consequences, as well as your rights as a trust beneficiary.
Read the Will and all codicils
In some cases, a trust can be created by a Will, so it may be necessary to read the Will and all of its codicils, if applicable. A codicil is a supplement that explains, modifies, or revokes a Will. Again, if you are confused by any of the terms of the will or codicils, you can ask the executor of the estate or contact one of our Orange County trust administration attorneys.
Will the trustee protect my interests?
As a trustee and fiduciary, the trustee is expected to always look beyond their own interests and comply with the terms of the trust document in every decision they make. Unfortunately, this can be a challenge but a trustee is required to remain impartial. This is true even if the trustee has a relationship with you or any of the other beneficiaries. Regardless of any existing relationships, a trustee is expected to remain a neutral party in every transaction affecting the trust.
Deciding whether to contest the trust
There may be situations where a trust beneficiary finds the need to contest the terms of the trust. Typically, a trust beneficiary has only 120 days after receiving notice of the trust to contest its terms. However, if you find something in the trust language that does not seem proper, or if you believe that the trust agreement is not an accurate reflection of the intentions of the person who created the trust, then contact one of our Orange County trust administration attorneys.
Be patient. . . administering a trust takes time
As our Orange County trust administration attorneys can attest, the trust administration process can take a long time to complete. For one thing, trust assets may be located in several bank accounts which will require the trustee to collect them all before distributions can be made. If real property is involved, the trustee may need time to sell property that needs to be liquidated.
You are entitled to request an accounting of the trust transactions
In California, trust beneficiaries are entitled to an accounting of all the trust assets within one year of death of the trustor (the person who created the trust). If you have not received an accounting within that time, you should request one. Once you receive the accounting, be sure to review it carefully. Again, if something does not seem appropriate, contact one of our Orange County trust administration attorneys.
Be sure not to sign any document you do not understand completely
As a trust beneficiary, you will likely be required to sign for any money or property you received pursuant to the trust. Be sure to read the documents presented to you carefully. If there is anything that you do not understand, ask the trustee before you sign. If you are still unsure, contact our Orange County trust administration attorneys for legal advice.
Join us for a free seminar today! If you have questions regarding estate planning, trust contests, or any other trust administration issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us in Los Angeles at (310) 337-7696, and in Orange County at (562) 346-3209.
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