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 vested. If your rights as a beneficiary have vested, you can request a copy of the trust instrument directly from the trustee. Should he or she refuse to provide such a copy, you may file a petition with the probate court to compel its distribution. An experienced Riverside trust lawyer can guide you through this process.

In most cases, the analysis as to whether or not you have a right to view a trust as a beneficiary follows the rules outlined below:

  • The rights of a beneficiary vest in a trust when it becomes irrevocable. 
  • For most revocable trusts, the trust becomes irrevocable when the creator of the trust passes away. 
  • Prior to 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 that they will remain beneficiaries permanently, and therefore 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 or amended absent an exception. 
  • Since the trust terms have become irrevocable, the beneficiaries now have a vested interest in the trust property.
  • Once the interest of the beneficiaries has vested, they have a right to receive a copy of the trust instrument under California trust law.

To learn more about your rights as a beneficiary of a California trust, contact an experienced Riverside trust attorney toll free 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