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By: Scott Grossman on April 10th, 2018

Is it possible for an Attorney to Serve as a Trustee while also Providing the Trust with Legal Services?

It is possible for an attorney to serve as a trustee and as the legal advisor of a California trust. However, it depends on the circumstances. The attorney must be careful and enter into both roles with a great deal of caution. If the attorney does not act fairly or follow the California trustee rules relating to compensation, he or she could be subject to litigation brought by a beneficiary. Beneficiaries who suspect that the attorney trustee of a trust is not acting properly should consult with a San Diego trust attorney immediately to protect their legal rights.

Attorney to Serve as a Trustee? It is recommended they take the following into account:

  • First of all, the attorney trustee cannot receive “double compensation”. This means they cannot receive compensation for his or her roles as trustee and attorney, with limited exceptions.
  • Also, the attorney trustee cannot act in his or her own best interest but instead must do what is best for the trust.
  • Furthermore, the attorney trustee must be careful to avoid adverse interests.
  • Additionally, the attorney trustee is not immune to litigation merely because the trust instrument contains exculpatory language protecting the trustee.
  • Lastly, the attorney trustee must abide by the requirements of the California Rules of Professional Conduct. The client’s signing of the trust instrument is not in and of itself enough to meet these requirements.

Key Terms:

  • Beneficiary (noun): A person who benefits from a trust, will, or life insurance policy. This includes heir, heiress, inheritor, legatee; recipient, receiver, payee, donee, assignee; devisee, grantee.
  • Litigation (noun): Litigation is the act or process of bringing a lawsuit to enforce a particular right. This can include Will contests, Trust Litigations, and Probate Litigation.


If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.