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By: Scott Grossman on April 10th, 2018

I am the trustee of a California trust, and I am instructed to make discretionary distributions. What should I do?

Oftentimes, a trust will leave property to an individual or a group of individuals, but it will instruct the trustee to make discretionary distributions. In this case, the trustee should decide how the distributions should be made and how much they should be for. There may be little guidance from the trust document with regard to how these discretionary distributions should be made. As a result, you may feel uncertain as to what distributions are appropriate.

If you are the trustee and you are instructed to make discretionary distributions, the following are helpful tips:

  • First of all, contact an experienced California trust attorney who can guide you through the trust administration process.
  • Also, gather copies of the trust document and any amendments for the attorney to review.
  • Carefully review the terms outlined in the trust document.
  • Furthermore, consider the purpose of the trust. Also, consider the goals that the creator of the document had in mind when establishing the trust.
  • Additionally, consider various factors when deciding to make a distribution, such as the age of the beneficiary or his or her particular need for the property.
  • Lastly, make discretionary distributions in good faith and in accordance with California trust law.

In conclusion, we understand that administering a trust in California can be a lengthy and overwhelming process to many. Choosing when and how to make discretionary distributions is just one aspect of the overall administration process.

  • Trust (noun): An organization (ie: bank) or someone else can manage the money or property in a trust usually at a set period of time. They are managed by Trustees and are set up to help better serve the beneficiary’s interests. It is a legal document that tells the Trustee how to specifically handle the money and assets on behalf of the beneficiary according to the Trust’s wishes.
  1. 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.


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.