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The Trustee Won't Communicate With Me. What Can I Do?

I received a call from Jerry.  Jerry is a beneficiary of his parent's trust in Santa Clara County along with his siblings.  One of his siblings is the trustee.  Unfortunately, the trustee is not communicating with him.  The trustee refuses to communicate what the assets of the trust are, how the trust funds are being invested, how the house will be handled and what is happening with the trust administration.  The trustee knows Jerry has significant health issues and lives out of state.  The trustee probably believes Jerry is powerless and can't do anything because he is in charge.  A bad trustee uses his position of control to abuse the beneficiaries.  

It is not uncommon for a power hungry trustee to believe they are in charge and can do whatever they want.  They do not believe they owe anything to the beneficiaries and the beneficiaries are powerless to do anything to challenge the trustee.  After all, they are in...

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Can The Trusee Withhold My Distribution Until I Sign A Release?

As a trust litigator in Santa Clara County, I get this question often.  Recently, I was representing a beneficiary of a trust.  The trustee was represented by a large law firm.  The trust administration was complete and my client was anticipating his distribution.  I was surprised when I received a release from the trustee along with a letter stating that until the trustee received a release from all of the beneficiaries, the distributions would not be forthcoming.  The beneficiaries had questioned some of the actions of the trustee and the trustee was threatening not to distribute until he received a release from the beneficiaries.  A release can be called different things: trust settlement agreement, trust closing agreement, distribution agreement, etc.  A release, no matter what it is called, requires the beneficiaries to consent to the trustee’s actions and release the trustee from any liability. Can they do this? The answer is a...

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I Am The Trustee Of A Trust in Santa Clara County. Do I Have To Go To Court?

Matt is the trustee of his father’s trust in Santa Clara County.  His father has recently passed away and he has a document and does not know what to do next.  His two siblings have lots of ideas and thoughts about what Matt can and cannot do.  While Matt is appreciative of their advice, he has ideas his own ideas about what he should do.  He has looked over the trust and understands how his father wanted things to be distributed.  He is unsure of the process and does not want to get into trouble. Does he need to file anything with the court or go to court?

One of the advantages of a California trust administration is it is much quicker when compared a probate administration of a will.  Another advantage is the trust remains private as it not mandatory it is filed with the superior court or the county recorder’s office.  The trust is only filed with the superior court if the trustee or one of the parties file a petition to bring a trust...

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