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By: Scott Grossman on December 2nd, 2019

Suing the trustee is often the answer, but not always the answer.

Who do I sue if I have not gotten what I am supposed to from a trust? The answer may not be as simple as you think. Many people immediately think they should be suing the trustee.

Suing the trustee is often the answer, but not always the answer.

Every once in a while something will happen in the administration of the trust or before the trustee has come into the office and has nothing to do with the trustee themselves. An example is when someone misrepresents themselves to a bank, as a trustee and they take money from an account that is owned by the trust, that is not the trustees’ fault. It is the third person who did this and they are the ones who should be sued. Sometimes we also see this in a type of real estate fraud, where somebody will forge a name onto a deed and record it, in order to get the property either because they want the title or they want to sell it. In these types of instances suing the trustee is not the answer.

Far more commonly though suing the trustee is the right answer.

In a situation where the trustee has done something wrong, either because they acted foolishly or maybe they acted dishonestly. Whatever thing they did, you have not gotten your inheritance. The related question we often get after someone understands who they should sue, is where do I sue?

If you are suing the trustee, suing anyone, even if you are suing the third person, it is where the trust is being administered.

That is because the trust becomes a litigation vehicle to actually sue. Here is what I mean by that, if the trustee has already filed something in a probate court, then you know that is the court you have to sue in. Often many trusts never find their way to court until something happens and either someone is suing the trustee or a third party. Often people find that nothing has been filed and you have to determine which court you need to be in. It is actually pretty easy. If the trustee did their job correctly, they sent you a notice stating they were administering the case stating this is where I am conducting the day-to-day operation of the trust. Then this is where you would file litigation. If they did not send you a notice, then you have to make some assumptions, if you know where they live, then you use that address to determine which county. That is the county you would be suing the trustee in, and the claim is going to be this is what I was supposed to get that I didn’t, and the trust becomes the way to figure out where you actually file the suit.

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.