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Four Steps to Take When the Executor and Trustee Disagree in California

Sometimes, the executor of a person’s estate is not the same individual who is the trustee of the deceased person’s trust. There are several differences between the responsibilities of an executor and a trustee in California. The executor is the person named in the will who is in charge of settling the probate estate of the deceased. He or she has no power until appointed by the court. The trustee, however, is a fiduciary appointed in the trust instrument. The court is not automatically involved in overseeing the administration of the trust. So what should be done when the executor and trustee are in disagreement?

One example of when a trustee and an executor may be in disagreement is with regard to the payment of the administration expenses or taxes following the death of the decedent. If the decedent placed all of his or her assets into his trust before death, there may be no funds available in the probate estate to pay these costs. When the trustee is uncooperative and will not assist with payment of these expenses, the executor may be forced to pursue legal action against the trustee. If you are in such a situation, consider taking the following actions:

  1. Consult with an experienced San Diego probate court lawyer for guidance.
  2. Obtain a copy of the trust.
  3. Review the trust to determine whether the trustee is instructed to pay the costs of administration or taxes.
  4. File a petition with the San Diego probate court to compel the trustee to comply with the terms of the trust and/or provide the funds to pay the costs.

For more information about the differences between an executor and a trustee, view our article, Executor vs. Trustee: Understanding the Differences in California. Contact an experienced San Diego probate court attorney today for a consultation. Call the Grossman Law Office 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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