Do I have a right to see a copy of a California trust if I am a beneficiary?
Generally, if you were the beneficiary named in a California trust, you have the right to see a copy of the trust instrument, provided that your rights have been vested. If your rights have vested, you can request a copy of the trust instrument directly from the trustee. Should they refuse to provide such a copy, you may file a petition with the probate court. An experienced trust lawyer can guide you through this process.
In most cases, whether or not you have a right to view a California trust as a beneficiary follows these rules:
- First of all, the rights of a beneficiary vest in a trust when it becomes irrevocable.
- Furthermore, for most revocable trusts, the trust becomes irrevocable when the creator of the trust passes away.
- Before the grantor of a revocable trust passing away, the instrument can be revised at any time. This includes changing who the beneficiaries are or what they are entitled to receive. As such, the beneficiaries have no assurance they are beneficiaries permanently. Therefore, they have no right to view a copy of the declaration.
- When the trust creator passes away, the terms of the trust can no longer be changed/amended absent an exception.
- Additionally, since the trust terms have become irrevocable, the beneficiaries now have a vested interest in the trust property.
- Finally, once the interest of the beneficiaries has vested, they have a right to receive a copy of the trust instrument under California trust law.
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