California Trust Attorneys Must Be Wary of Double Dipping

In some circumstances, the individual who is serving as trustee of a trust may also be the attorney who is performing legal services on behalf of the trust. When the trust is created, the grantor may have felt more comfortable naming the attorney as a trustee than naming a friend or family member. While this is not illegal under California trust law, there are certain restrictions that apply relating to compensation. If you suspect that the trustee and attorney of a trust is obtaining too much compensation for the work that he or she is performing, contact an experienced San Diego trust attorney for guidance.

The following is an overview of some of the rules relating to compensation which the individual serving as both trustee and attorney is subject to:

  • The attorney may receive compensation as a trustee or compensation as an attorney, but not for both.
  • An exception to that rule is if the trustee obtains approval for the double compensation from the California Probate Court.
  • In order to receive such approval, the trustee must provide notice to all persons entitled to receive the notice, and there cannot be any objections made.
  • The rule that you cannot receive compensation for legal services also applies to individuals with specific relationships with the trustee, such as a law partner.
  • An exception can be made if the trustee either waives the trustee compensation or gets prior approval from the probate court.
  • The trustee cannot use waivers by the beneficiaries to get around the requirements.

Bringing an action against the trustee of a California trust or its attorney is a complex process that requires specialized expertise. To learn more about bringing a claim, view our free book, The Ultimate Guide to California Trust and Probate Litigation.

For more information about trustee compensation and other estate matters, contact an experienced San Diego trust litigation attorney today for guidance. Call the Grossman Law Firm at (888) 443-6590.

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

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