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By: Scott Grossman on September 15th, 2016

What to Do When a Trustee Steals from the Estate

Are There Penalties When A Trustee Steals from the Estate?

The answer is yes, but you must act to stop the theft and stay within the statute of limitations!

When a California trust is created, the creator of the trust appoints a trustee or co-trustees who are in charge of administering the trust. The trustee has a legal obligation to act in good faith and in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Also, the trust document usually outlines the trustee’s powers about how they are to manage the trust assets. These powers usually include the ability to invest the trust money, distribute assets, and consult professional financial advisers. The result is the trustee has a lot of authority over the trust assets, often with little or no supervision.

Unfortunately, some trustees do not uphold their legal obligations and instead the trustee steals from the estate.

If you are a beneficiary  and suspect that a California trustee of that trust has stolen estate funds, you may be entitled to damages. An experienced California trust attorney can help guide you through the legal process. Many people fear a no contest clause means they cannot protect themselves. However, if the trustee is not doing what the trust says, this is not a contest! Forcing a trustee to follow the trust is simply making the trustee do what the trust said. Contesting means that you want to change what the documents says, making a trustee do what the trust says is not a contest!

Attorneys usually gather the following:

  • Copies of the trust document and all amendments
  • Documents supporting your claim of how the trustee steals from the estate
  • Proof that shows how the theft harmed you and other beneficiaries
  • Information that shows how the trustee profited from the trustee stealing from the estate
  • Opinions from financial experts to reasonably predict what would have happened to the trust assets had the trustee not stolen from the estate

For more information about trustee duties and the California trust administration process, consult the free guide The Insider’s Guide to California Probate and Trust Administration.

While the prospect of suing a trustee who has stolen from an estate may seem daunting, an experienced California attorney can guide you through the process. To learn more, contact the Grossman Law Firm at (888) 443-6590.