It's 2017. Experts estimate that California's population is approaching 40 million. Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Alameda, Contra Costa and Sacramento Counties are a very significant part of our state's annual growth. These are also counties where Hackard Law regularly litigates disputed trust, estate and elder financial abuse cases.
The breadth of our trust litigation practice in our nation's most populous state provides a vista into what causes trust disputes to evolve into lawsuits. We receive dozens of calls from prospective clients every week. A significant number of these calls involve general trustee misconduct and more specifically trust and asset hiding.
The failure and refusal of a trustee to provide a copy of the trust and its amendments to trust beneficiaries sets off alarm bells immediately. The trustee's effort to interfere with an orderly trust administration is simply a bad idea. If we were to use the Homeland Security color-coded threat advisory system, a trustee hiding a trust and its amendments raises the risk of wrongdoing from low (green) to high (orange) or maybe even severe (red).
So what does California law say about this? The probate code provides
"...on reasonable request by a beneficiary, the trustee shall report to the beneficiary by providing requested information to the beneficiary relating to the administration of the trust relevant to the beneficiary's interest." Moreover and more specifically the law says "On the request of a beneficiary, the trustee shall provide the terms of the trust to the beneficiary..."
Well, this is pretty clear isn't it? It may be clear, but plenty of trustees refuse to follow the law and fail the standard of care required of a trustee. There are remedies for such failures that range from court ordered trustee removal to the beneficiary's pursuit of a personal monetary judgment against the trustee.
Hiding the trust from beneficiaries is a bad idea.
Hackard Law is a California based law firm litigating cases on behalf of victims of elder financial abuse, wronged beneficiaries and heirs. If you would like to speak with us about your case call us at (916) 313-3031.